“Exceptional Dogs for Exceptional People”
On February 3rd, our Leona Valley Sertoma organization had the honor of introducing Melissa Billingsley and Jonathan Farmer, representatives of “Canine Companions for Independence”, which was founded in 1975. Melissa spent about one hour explaining how this nonprofit organization can enhance the lives of people with hearing disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs to people “in need” of this ongoing support. We also had the honor of meeting Hiltie, Lotus and Shiann, who proved to be quite calm, but attentive dogs. Hiltie is owned by Melissa and only took verbal command from her human partner, using just a “one word” command when needed.
The assistance dogs that CCI raises, breed’s and train are not just the ears, hands and legs of their human partners. They are considered goodwill ambassadors and their best friends. There are four types of assistance dogs:
- Service dogs – assist adults with their daily tasks who have physical disabilities to retrieve a phone, open doors and pull a wheelchair.
- Hearing dogs – alert their partners who are deaf or hard of hearing.
- Facility dogs – work with clients with special needs in a visitation, criminal justice or health care setting.
- Skilled companion – enhance independence for children and adults with physical, cognitive and developmental disabilities.
The investment to train and educate each dog is $50K – There are many philanthropists / benefactors who sponsor many dogs through different foundations, which makes them free to applicants who are “in need” and are approved. The dogs are bred in Santa Rosa, sent to puppy raisers for eight weeks to 18 months and then are returned to CCI campus’ (in the USA) for six to 12 months for advanced training. Fact is that 70% of service dogs fail to pass their training and 30% graduate and move on to a recipient.
“Some people wait a lifetime for a miracle, but Canine Companions for Independence raises these special dogs one at a time” and, they ARE miracle dogs.
Please check their website: www.cci.org
— The above written and submitted by Jan Clark.
If you would like to know more about Sertoma, we invite you to come to one of our meeting’s. We gather at Jack’s Place restaurant, on 90th Street West, in Leona Valley, on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of each month. Meetings begin at 8:00am and conclude at 9:30am. Feel free to contact a member if you have any questions.