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Penngrove team prepares classes of puppies to be of service before graduation

in Animals

Service animals are an indispensable resource for people with disabilities. And countless hours are spent by teams of professionals training these animals – most commonly dogs – to understand dozens of commands, ranging from opening doors to pulling manual wheelchairs and identifying potential hazards – all in service of their owner.

But who trains the trainers?

After observing the beneficial role that donkeys played with helping disabled individuals abroad, Bonnie Bergin returned home to Santa Rosa in 1975, to implement that concept with canines. Shortly thereafter, Bergin founded Canine Companions for Independence in Cotati in an effort to train and connect service dogs to those in need.

When the organization began receiving requests to train more and more people who could then train service dogs, Bergin decided to open the Bergin College of Canine Studies in 1991 as a nonprofit service dog organization. Assistance Dog Institute is also a part of college, but offers a degree after students complete the two-year program.

“When I created the service dog, I created Canine Companions to place the dogs,” Bergin said. “When I got this constant onslaught of people who wanted to learn how to do it – we were the only ones (at that time).”

Continue Reading on The Press Democrat

Airplane full of puppies lands at Bradley; pups to begin new lives assisting the disabled

in People

A small private airplane landed at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks on Wednesday night, and delivered sweetness, joy and hope to nine families waiting on the tarmac.

Nine 8-week-old puppies, which were flown from California, were carried off the plane one by one and handed over to the people who will begin their training to become assistance dogs for the disabled.

The fluffy little golden retriever-Labrador retriever mixes, some golden and some black, were bred by Canine Companions for Independence. CCI, based in Santa Rosa, California, has trained and placed 6,741 assistance dogs to homes all over the country since it was founded in 1975.

Wednesday’s pups — Cam, Clinton, Colton, Cubby, Wontan, Berry, Dancer, Dublin and Duncan — wore blue-trimmed yellow capes, to signify that they are hero dogs in training. When they are fully trained, the dogs will be assigned to people with disabilities and will be given blue capes to wear.

Continue Reading on Hartford Courant 

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