Raise a Puppy, Change a Life.

By on December 7, 2012

I’d like to introduce you to Haydra. Yes, she is a cute puppy, but she’s much more. Haydra was born destined for a higher purpose – to assist a person with a disability in leading a more fulfilling and independent life.

Haydra is a Canine Companions for Independence® (CCI) puppy being raised by a volunteer puppy raiser, Trevor MacLean, in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Trevor has taken on the unique responsibility of raising Haydra until she is old enough for advanced training at CCI’s Southeast Regional Center in Orlando, FL.  Trevor will give Haydra a safe home, provide basic puppy training, take her to obedience classes, provide socialization opportunities, feed and care for her and give her lots of love.

Canine Companions for Independence is the largest non-profit provider of trained assistance dogs. It has five regional training centers across the country, and is locally based in Orlando, Florida. Established in 1975, CCI provides highly trained assistance dogs to children and adults with disabilities and is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs and quality and longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people.
Assistance dogs aren’t just born, they’re raised.  Every Canine Companions for Independence assistance dog starts as a puppy that needs a loving home.  For people with extra space in their hearts and homes, volunteer puppy raising is an incredible way to help people with disabilities live more independent lives

Each hour spent caring for a Canine Companions for Independence puppy is vital to its development as a future assistance dog. The puppy raising program provides a unique opportunity for volunteers to assist Canine Companions for Independence with its very important mission.

Andrea Batchelor of Orlando, Florida describes her volunteer puppy raising experience this way, “’How can you give her up?  I could never do that.’ I hear those words nearly every time I am out in public with my puppy.  I am a Canine Companions for independence puppy raiser.  One little ball of fur at a time, these puppies come into my home, and learn to be well-behaved dogs who will one day offer service and companionship to someone with a disability. Handing the leashes over to the recipients and their families at graduation ceremonies was incredibly special.  As I looked at the faces of the children, and their tearful parents, I could only say, ‘Thank you for allowing me to raise your dog. It was truly my pleasure.’ And on November 17, when I say goodbye to my current CCI puppy, Whitley, I will again cry and then smile as I think of the day I will give this special dog to someone who needs her much more than me. And it won’t be long until I’m picking up another wet-nosed bundle of fur to love and raise and give away as part of the Canine Companions for Independence circle of love.”

The age of two to eighteen months is an essential period in a dog’s development. By introducing the puppy to a variety of people, places and situations, puppy raisers help to prepare Canine Companions for Independence puppies for a lifetime of great work.

Between the ages of fifteen to eighteen months, the puppy travels to the Canine Companions for Independence training center in Orlando, Florida, to receive six to nine months of professional instruction and to master over 40 commands.  The puppy then enters Team Training to be matched with an adult or child with a disability.

What Canine Companions for Independence volunteer puppy raisers do:

  • Provide a safe environment for a puppy who will be the only dog under one year of age in the house.
  • Work closely with CCI monitoring the puppy’s progress and submit monthly reports.
  • Attend CCI approved obedience classes.
  • Teach the puppy manners and basic commands.
  • Provide financially for the puppy’s food, medical and transportation expenses.
  • Feed the puppy a diet recommended by CCI.
  • Provide a kennel or crate for sleeping indoors.
  • Provide the puppy with age-appropriate socialization opportunities such as public outings and medical appointments.
  • Keep the puppy on a leash at all times unless in a securely fenced area.
  • Supervise the young puppy throughout the day.
  • Agree to return the puppy upon request.

If you would like to learn more about Canine Companions for Independence and volunteer puppy raising, please contact Ed Burger at (407) 522-3304 or eburger@cci.org.  You can also visit our website at www.cci.org.

Raise a Puppy. Change a Life.


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