OCEANSIDE— Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit organization that provides assistance dogs for people with disabilities free of charge, will hold its largest-ever Southwest regional graduation ceremony at noon Aug. 22 at the Mission San Luis Rey Parish’s Serra Center, 4070 Mission Ave. The ceremony will honor the 21 newest recipients of Canine Companions’ highly trained assistance dogs.
Both adults and children with a wide range of physical and developmental disabilities benefit from these canine helpers, and representatives of Canine Companions’ diverse clientele are among the August graduating class. In recent years, the organization began a targeted effort to increase placements of assistance dogs with disabled veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Canine Companions has announced that two local Marines and one Army soldier that served in Operation Iraqi Freedom will formally receive their service dogs in the August ceremony.
The dogs graduating Aug. 22 have been in training for more than two years and know up to 50 different commands including opening doors, turning lights on and off, and retrieving dropped objects. The graduation ceremony is the culmination of an intensive, two-week Team Training course completed by these new human/canine teams at Canine Companions’ Southwest Regional Training Center in Oceanside.
The ceremony will also feature volunteer puppy raisers turning in the puppies they have been raising for Canine Companions over the past 14 to 16 months. Next, the puppies will embark on six to nine months of professional training with staff instructors in the hopes that they will one day become an assistance dog for someone in need.
For more information, visit www.cci.org or call (800) 572-2275.