WHO: Brie Alfano, BIM Manager, V.J. Scozzari & Sons, Inc. and Volunteer Puppy Raiser to Fielding II aka Frank
WHAT: Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) is a non-profit organization founded in 1975 that enhances the lives of individuals with disabilities by providing highly trained service dogs. CCI was the first agency to earn full ADI (Assistance Dogs International) accreditation in 2002 and the first to be reaccredited in 2007. They are currently the largest non-profit provider of assistance dogs and recognized worldwide for the excellence of their dogs and the quality and longevity of their matches between recipients and dogs. There are currently over 1,100 puppies being raised and all of their service dogs and ancillary services are provided to the recipient free of charge.
Canine Companions for Independence trains four (4) types of canine companions:
Service Dogs: Assist independent adults with physical disabilities by performing practical daily tasks such as retrieving dropped items, opening doors and turning on and off light switches.
Skilled Companion Dogs: Help children and adults with physical or developmental disabilities by performing similar functions as that of a service dog.
Hearing Dogs: Benefit adults who are deaf or hard of hearing by alerting them to important every day sounds such as an alarm clock, doorbell or crying baby.
Facility Dogs: Work at the side of an able-bodied adult who is a professional care giver, educator or skilled volunteer.
CCI believes that Service Dogs aren’t just born, they’re raised.
WHEN: Volunteer Puppy Raisers typically have their puppies for 14 – 16 months, after which matriculation occurs and the puppies, now dogs, enter six to nine months of Advanced Training where they will become proficient at over 50 specific commands and practice working in different environments and distractions. The last phase is Team Training where the service dogs are paired with their recipients and, over the two weeks of intensive training, they will learn how to work together as a team and officially graduate. Frank will be with us until May 2018.
WHERE: Even though during Frank’s time with us he will learn over 30 commands, most importantly is that he is properly socialized. This includes not only the people he meets (different ages, shapes and sizes, ethnicities) but the environments (workplace, grocery store, shopping center) as well. Every encounter and experience Frank is exposed to will shape his future personality and temperament. As Frank continues to mature and advance in his training, he will begin to be introduced to a wider variety of environments and distractions, until ultimately, he is able to be in any situation and remain calm and focused and listening to his handler.
WHY: Frank is not just a puppy – he is a puppy with a purpose who has the potential to change someone’s life in a way I would never be able to do so, and to get to be a very small part of that process, I am very honored.
Please check back for updates on Frank’s progress as he continues on his journey of becoming a future service dog!