Canine Companions for Independence | M.C. Mobility Systems

Community Spotlight: Canine Companions for Independence


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Help is a four-legged word.

Founded in 1975, Canine Companions for Independence is a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships. Headquartered in Santa Rosa, CA, Canine Companions is the largest non-profit provider of assistance dogs, and is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and the quality and longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people. The result is a life full of increased independence and loving companionship.

 

Canine Companions trains four types of assistance dogs.

Service Teams | Assist adults with physical disabilities by performing daily tasks.  

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Imagine having a dog that could turn on lights, pick up dropped keys or open a door. Canine Companions for Independence service dogs are partnered with adults with physical disabilities to assist with daily tasks and increase independence by reducing reliance on other people. A service dog can pull their partner in a manual wheelchair, push buttons for elevators or automatic doors, and even assist with business transactions by transferring money, receipts, and packages.

A Canine Companions service dog not only assists with physical tasks, but also provides social support.

Disabilities served include, but are not limited to, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, arthritis and cerebral palsy.

 

Hearing Teams | Alert the deaf and hard of hearing to important sounds.

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Canine Companions for Independence hearing dogs are specially bred Labrador and Golden Retrievers who alert partners to key sounds by making physical contact such as nudging the leg or arm. Among the many sounds hearing dogs are trained to recognize and respond to are the sound of a doorbell, alarm clock, someone calling a name or a smoke alarm.

Partnering with a Canine Companions hearing dog can increase feelings of security and self-confidence by heightening awareness of environmental sounds.

After being placed in the home, the graduates “customize” the dog’s alerting pattern to their own particular environment and needs. Examples include: alerting to incoming e-mail messages at work, timers on microwaves, dryers and other appliances, and dropping keys.

 

Skilled Companion Teams | Enhance independence for children and adults with physical, cognitive and developmental disabilities.

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People with disabilities might have trouble reaching a light switch, picking up a dropped pencil or opening a door. Imagine having a dog that could do all of that and more.

These skilled companion dogs are trained to work with an adult or child with a disability under the guidance of a facilitator. A facilitator is typically a parent, spouse or caregiver who handles and cares for the assistance dog, encourages a strong bond between the recipient and the skilled companion dog, and is responsible for the customized training needs of the dog.

Disabilities served include, but are not limited to, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, Spina Bifida and Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

A Canine Companions skilled companion is bred to be calm, reliable, affectionate and utilizes its trained skills and tasks to help mitigate the recipient’s disability.

A Canine Companions skilled companion can also serve as a tool to assist in developing independent living skills as well as integrated into structured therapies and utilized to facilitate social interactions. Not only can a skilled companion placement make their physical lives easier, it can boost confidence, feelings of self-sufficiency and responsibility.

 

Facility Teams | Work with a professional in a visitation, education or healthcare setting.

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Facility dogs are expertly trained dogs who partner with a facilitator working in a health care, visitation or education setting.

Canine Companions facility dogs are trustworthy in professional environments and can perform over 40 commands designed to motivate and inspire clients with special needs.

Facilitators are working professionals responsible for handling and caring for the facility dog. Additionally, facilitators are committed to long-term employment where they directly serve clients with special needs a minimum of twenty hours per week.

One of the most valued qualities of the facility dog is the unconditional love and attention it gives to the clients and patients with whom it interacts.

In an educational setting, a facility dog helps engage students in schools and special education classes.

In a health care environment, activities such as grooming, feeding and playing fetch with a facility dog can aid patients in medical rehabilitation and psychiatric programs.

A well-mannered and highly trained facility dog encourages feelings of calm and security for clients in a visitation setting such as a courtroom.

 

Upcoming Canine Companion Events.

There are some upcoming events in Ohio to raise money for the Canine Companions for Independence. Teams raise money prior to the event and then celebrate the fundraising as well as the dogs and people they serve.

Cleveland DogFest is Sunday, September 25th at Uptown Park, 50 Public Square, Medina, Ohio 43054.
Cincinnati DogFest is Friday, October 15th at Voice of America Metro, Park7850 VOA Park Drive, West Chester, OH 45069.

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