Puppy Merial Goes Adventuring

Canine Companions Puppy Merial has been very busy the last couple of months! She’s visited the local vet clinic, shops, attended presentations and even a summer camp thatIMG_3745 serves kids with disabilities. But that’s not all, she was able to march in the 4th of July parade to share our mission with her community and celebrate independence! These outings play a very active role in her socialization as she learns new commands and tries to perfect them in different and distracting environments.

Of course, it’s not all work for Merial, she loves to play and cool off during these hot summer months. “She spends time playing in the puppy pool and frequently has the neighbor dogs over for a pool party,” says her volunteer puppy raiser Cecilia. Even the pool parties and exposure to other dogs that look and act differently help Merial adjust and adapt to the world around her. The more she experiences as a puppy, the better it will serve her as an assistance dog.

IMG_3833Merial is named for Merial, Inc., the maker of NexGard® (afoxolaner).

This summer, the NexGard team is working with Canine Companions for Independence® to recognize the countless assistance dogs that help make their partners’ lives easier every day.

The Hero Tails program features five video “dog-umentaries” that celebrate the stories of Canine Companions for Independence graduate pairs. Each video highlights how the NexGard team and Canine Companions for Independence are making life easier, one dog at a time.

Watch the Hero Tails video series narrated by TV personality, musician and philanthropist Nick Cannon, and for every video view or in-clinic purchase of NexGard until Oct. 31, Merial, will donate $1, up to a total of $175,000, to Canine Companions for Independence.

Watch the Hero Tails “Dog-umentaries”
Learn more about puppy raising
Visit our website

®NexGard is a registered trademark of Merial. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

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Raising a Ruckus

Canine Companions puppy raiser Karen Ammer is raising a ruckus and couldn’t be more proud! Ruckus, a 7-month-old black Lab/Golden cross was named by the employees of Ruckus Wireless, a San Francisco Bay Area company.

Puppy Ruckus is a frequent visitor at his namesake company, often joining employees for lunch alongside Karen. “He loves to ‘shake’ with the employees who have been able to watch him grow. I think Ruckus realizes that he gets a lot of positive attention when he engages with others appropriately,” Karen says.

9P2A7843Not only is Ruckus an office regular, he’s experiencing plenty of new socialization opportunities with Karen’s daughter and co-raiser, Emily. During the school year, Ruckus attended Gunn High School’s service club, formed by Emily that makes tug toys for Canine Companions’ training centers. Ruckus frequents Palo Alto Children’s Library for the Paws to Read program, where he lays quietly listening to children read.

“Despite his name, Ruckus is a calm and quiet puppy,” says Karen. “He’s a pleasure to raise, and he brings my daughter and me closer together. We love to have so many opportunities to show Ruckus Wireless the progress puppy Ruckus is making each day.”

Ruckus will have an exciting opportunity to join Minor League Baseball team, San Jose Giants, on June 28, on the field as a featured “Baseball Buddy.” Along with eight of his Canine Companions dog friends, Ruckus will join team warm-ups and stand proudly for the national anthem—no problem for this mellow Ruckus!

Learn more about puppy raising.

Find out how you can become a volunteer.

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Puppy Babs and GFWC Moving our Mission Forward

BABS 2015-12Meet Canine Companions puppy Babs, a sweet 7 month Labrador/Golden Retriever cross being raised by college student Veronica.  Babs has been learning both in and out of the classroom as Veronica teaches her basic obedience and gives her plenty of college life socialization.  Veronica’s college hosts one of our 30 Canine Companions college puppy raising clubs, so Babs enjoys lots of play time with her study buddies.

Babs was named in honor of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) president Babs Condon.  GFWC has been a great supporter of Canine Companions for Independence® for many years.  Babs Condon held a two-year term and will be passing the torch this June at the National GFWC Convention to Sheila Shea. During Babs Condon’s 2014-2016 tenure, GFWC raised approximately $400,000 for Canine Companions for Independence.

We have benefited from the generosity of GFWC across the nation through financial gifts as well as volunteer service and community outreach and we are touched by their generosity and their passion to give back.  GFWC is comprised of 6,500 women’s clubs, and their national fundraising and outreach for Canine Companions extends from Florida to Massachusetts, New York to California.GFWC 2016 (8)

Canine Companions is honored to have puppy Babs continuing the hard work of the GFWC, raising awareness and studying hard alongside Veronica to potentially change the life of a person with a disability.

Learn more about puppy raising.

Find out how you can become a volunteer.

Make a donation to support our mission.

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Meet Puppy Poncho!

Meet Canine Companions puppy Poncho, named by Canine Companions corporate partner PetSmart and being raised by volunteer puppy raiser Jolie. Poncho, a black Labrador/golden retriever cross, is seven months old and has been learning basic obedience commands and socialization. Jolie says he’s a thinker and an all-around smart guy.



“Poncho loves the ‘sit’ command. He knows something fun is going to happen when he’s sitting nicely—usually it’s meeting a new person or getting a treat,” says Jolie.

The basic commands come in handy on Poncho’s outings, especially when he gets groomed or goes to the vet at his local PetSmart store. “The employees just melt when they get to bathe Poncho and the feeling is mutual!”

Jolie and Poncho love the outdoors, walking and taking in the Southern California beach scene. There are many opportunities for Poncho to show off his smarts when pelicans saunter nearby or when they ride the Harbor Cruise around San Diego Bay.


Practicing “sit”

“There are so many great moments raising Poncho,” Jolie says. “From the joy he gets from having his teeth brushed to watching him enjoy the outdoors. Having him by my side is an experience that is truly priceless.”

If your pet is interested in going to PetSmart like puppy Poncho, be sure to stop by between May 2 to July 4. They are offering special patriotic grooming and hotel packages benefiting Canine Companions’ Veterans Initiative through our partnership initiative PetSmart for Patriots.

Are you interested in becoming a puppy raiser? Click here for more information.

Click here to learn more about our corporate partnerships.

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A Letter From a Mom

On behalf of Mother’s Day, we’d like to share with you a letter we received from the mother of one of our graduates. Enjoy!

– – –

To Canine Companions supporters and volunteers:

It is hard to believe that we just celebrated the first anniversary of the graduation of Jacob with Skilled Companion Kanue. So much has happened in the last year since Kanue and Jacob have become a team.

Canine Companions has been doing this long enough to know the thousands of success stories and the difference these dogs make in the lives of so many. Kanue has certainly joined the ranks of the many Canine Companions assistance dogs before him. It’s hard to believe that this big, playful dog (when not in work mode) has become someone that Jacob depends on — a very loyal, faithful, purposeful companion.


Jacob and Kanue

They’re together nonstop. Despite hating eye contact, Jacob always keeps an eye on Kanue, making sure he is around. Despite having very few meaningful relationships, Jacob giggles at Kanue when he shakes his collar or when Kanue retrieves a dropped toy. Jacob does not freely offer affection to anyone. I worried that Kanue would not fully bond with Jacob without the praise and physical reward coming from Jacob, which is actually the reason for this letter.

I knew Kanue had a bond with Jacob the day I saw the two of them together in Team Training at Canine Companions. Weird as it sounds, it was as if Kanue picked Jacob. But I didn’t fully understand the bond Jacob had with Kanue until last year when Jacob had his 15th surgery.

Usually, there are lots of tears, major anxiety and sheer panic — for both Jacob and me! This time was completely different because of Kanue. Jacob was not crying, but smiling. I was able to talk to all the medical professionals before surgery without interruptions, because Jacob was calm and happy with Kanue by his side. I also noticed that Jacob’s dad, Greg, and I were calm.


Kanue providing comfort

What was happening? Certainly this couldn’t be all because of a dog. Certainly they had to be pumping happy gas thru the vents of the hospital.

Then the time came to wheel him to the operating room. I had already informed the staff that Jacob may start screaming at the doors, pinch and use all means necessary to express his displeasure. I explained to the staff that Greg and I will have to go into the induction room to help calm Jacob down. So they let Greg, Kanue and me escort him.

But there were no tears, no pinching, no tantrums and no need for anxiety medication. With Kanue, Jacob was calm and fine. After surgery, we were called back to recovery immediately. Kanue jumped up on Jacob’s stretcher, smelled him all over, covered him in kisses and laid down by his side for the entire recovery.


Recovery with Kanue

This was the first time in 15 surgeries that Jacob did not require any pain or anxiety medication during recovery. Kanue was able to provide Jacob with everything he needed. And this is when I was completely convinced of Jacob’s bond to Kanue. Jacob may not actively show many signs of affection to Kanue, but the bond and love the two have for each other is undeniable.

So if a puppy raiser is ever having a bad day with a stubborn puppy or if a donor is debating on whether their donation will have an impact, please know that all your support makes an unbelievable difference in someone’s life.

Much love,
Mother of Jacob and Skilled Companion Kanue

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Meet Puppy Merial!

Canine Companions is pleased to introduce puppy Merial! This adorable Labrador, Golden Retriever cross was born on September 17, 2015, along with her five brothers and four sisters. As a growing 7-month-old puppy, Merial will have many adventures and training opportunities.


The first few of months were a time for adjusting to her volunteer puppy raiser’s home and routine as well as working on basic commands: learning her name, Sit, Shake, Down and practicing wearing her gentle leader. Mastering these commands will lay a great foundation for when Merial is ready to move on to more advanced commands.


Socialization is also a key part of Merial’s early training. This includes meeting new friends, traveling to different locations and experiencing new sights and sounds. The early socialization will help her with professional training and her work towards becoming an assistance dog.

As a Canine Companions assistance dog, Merial will be matched with an adult, child or veteran with a disability. Our dogs are trained to help with all sorts of tasks: picking up keys, turning on light switches, opening doors and much, much more!

Merial is named for Merial Inc., a Canine Companions corporate sponsor.


We’d love to have you follow along with Merial as she works and trains and plays her way to becoming a life-changing assistance dog.

Learn more about Canine Companions for Independence

Learn more about becoming a volunteer puppy raiser


About Merial, Inc.
Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health and well-being of a wide range of animals. Merial employs 6,600 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide with over €2 billion of sales in 2014. Merial has three main business areas: pets, farm animals, and veterinary public health. Our pharmaceuticals and vaccines focus on disease prevention and overall health and wellness in animals, and target more than 200 diseases and conditions across a variety of species.

Merial is a Sanofi company. For more information, please see http://www.merial.com

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A Life-Changing Experience

nancy-ramesh-75“I’d been married seven years when everything changed. I woke up one morning and I couldn’t pick up my foot,” recalls Nancy. “For thirty years I was very able bodied.”

After weeks of trying to determine a cause, doctors diagnosed Nancy with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive and fatal neurological disease, and gave her only a few years to live.

“Sometimes, you reach a point when you just can’t cope anymore,” explains Nancy. “I was resentful of the circumstances and fearful for the future, but my husband, Ramesh, stuck by my side through all of it.”

And, because Nancy survived, the neurologists had time to reevaluate her diagnosis and determine that she didn’t have ALS after all, but rather a neuromuscular disease without such a dire prognosis. But the thing that really helped Nancy pull through this ordeal had a cold nose and a warm heart — a Canine Companions for Independence® assistance dog.

“When I got my first service dog in 1994, my world was completely changed,” says Nancy. “There are never enough words to express how much Canine Companions service dogs have changed my life and how much they mean to me.”

All four of Nancy’s service dogs have helped Nancy live more independently by opening doors, picking up dropped items and pulling her wheelchair. Our dogs are trained in 40 commands to help make life easier, but they also provide unconditional love.

“I know I can never repay Canine Companions for what they have given me. But my husband and I are a long way from where we were,” explains Nancy. “These dogs truly create life-changing experiences. Ramesh and I will be leaving our legacy to Canine Companions.” Nancy and her husband are also Monthly Miracle Makers, donors that give monthly gifts easily and conveniently.


“People think, ‘I believe in the cause, I should do something,’ but then they forget to send in a donation. Giving monthly just makes sense!” advises Nancy. “It makes sense for the organization and for the donors! It’s a huge benefit for Canine Companions to have a steady flow of money coming in all year long.”

“I think anyone who has gone through trauma or become disabled is scarred in some way — whether it is a spinal cord injury or one of our veterans who was wounded,” says Nancy. “Canine Companions for Independence service dogs help bring us back out of our shell. They help us start living in the world again.”

Learn more about Canine Companions assistance dogs.

Become a Monthly Miracle Maker.




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The Road to Rio

The U.S. Paralympic Sailing Team is in the midst of training for the Paralympic Games that will take place in Rio September 7-18, 2016. This year is bringing a lot of excitement to the team, including the team’s unique assistant — Canine Companions Facility Dog Morrow II. Morrow has been a true companion and helper to the team for almost nine years.

Marrow at the bow

After observing the Paralympic sailors with their pets, the team’s coach Betsy saw the potential that a team dog could act as a stress reducer and psychological motivator for athletes. She consulted with several sports psychologists who agreed. In May 2007, she added a new member to the sailing team when she graduated from Canine Companions with Morrow, an exceptional facility dog.

The team includes nearly 20 athletes with disabilities. Many have spinal cord injuries of varying severity and about half the members use wheelchairs. Betsy notices that when sailors make errors or perform poorly on the water they often internalize the stress and their mental state suffers. “Morrow provides stress reduction. You can’t help but smile at his unconditional love and regain a positive outlook,” says Betsy.

US Paralympic Sailing Team

Thanks to his training at Canine Companions, Morrow can assist the sailors with tasks like picking up dropped tools and carrying life jackets and dry bags. Morrow is a constant professional. He is unperturbed by common sounds aboard the coach boat. Air horns, whistles, wave action or shouted greetings from other boats don’t distract him in the slightest.

“Morrow has been more of a physical and emotional support to the athletes than anyone anticipated. Physically, Morrow picks up out of reach items, carries athlete bags and gear, and even assists with docking the boats by bringing fenders to the sailors. Emotionally, Morrow has been a training constant for the athletes who must often travel away from home, leaving their support systems to attend camps and competition,” shares Betsy.

Marrow and friend

We can’t wait to cheer on the team in September! Best of luck to all of them.

Read more graduate stories at cci.org/stories.

Make a donation to support our mission at cci.org/donate.

Posted in Assistance Dogs, Canine Companions, facility dogs, Paralympics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

6 Tips to Keep Your Pup Healthy & Happy During the Holidays

holiday_greetingsThe holidays are happening and you know what that means?  Family and friends, parties and play, gifts and goodies and much, much more! This is a wonderful and exciting time of year, but we all know it can sometimes bring anxiety for our favorite pups. Take some time to read our top six tips to help keep your pet happy, relaxed and safe this year.

1. Tire your pup out before visiting or receiving holiday guests. Keep in mind that holiday visits are not typical visits. They may involve heightened energy, since often we haven’t seen these people in a while, and dog people have a tendency to get excited around others’ dogs. A dog is more likely to behave if it’s just had a nice long walk. If they’re not dog people, your guests may be nervous, insecure and unsure; a tired dog can help these people relax.

2. Be aware of dangerous holiday items. The festive poinsettia causes dogs to vomit. Chocolate is a poisonous treat. And tinsel has sent many a dog to the emergency room as it can easily cut up intestines.  For a list of dangerous holiday plants, visit www.aspca.org/toxicplants. Don’t allow animals to drink Christmas tree water – it can be harmful as well.

3. Human goodies are no good for your pup. Keep food and other treats away from your dog or puppy as it can cause upset tummies and other issues. Maintain a regular feeding schedule and remind your guests that scraps and “hand outs” should not be given to your pets.

4. Cold weather is hazardous. De-icing products, salt and ice can get into fur and paws causing skin irritation or more serious conditions.  Thoroughly wipe your dog’s paws and tummy when he comes in from the cold and snow.  Take care to wipe up any spilled antifreeze – dogs love the sweet (but deadly) taste.  Better yet, consider using animal-friendly antifreeze products.  Balls of ice between a dog’s toes can be painful.  For some of the longer coated dogs, trimming the hair between the toes and pads will help, and of course, keep those nails short too.

5. Holidays are exhausting! Provide your pup with a quiet and warm area so everyone can have a break when needed.  A large comfortable crate is the perfect place for your pup to rest and feel secure.

6. Exercise is good for all. Take your pup out for a stroll around the block. Enjoy your neighbors’ holiday lighting, take in the fresh air and burn off some of those holiday calories! It’s a win/win.

Wishing everyone a very happy and safe holiday season. Thank you for your support and dedication to our mission.

For more information on Canine Companions for Independence, visit www.cci.org.

Sleeping Holiday Pup


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Raising a Hero Litter Puppy

Last Friday was special. It was hard and emotional, but it was certainly special. It was the day the volunteer puppy raisers of the Eukanuba-sponsored Hero Litter returned their puppies to Canine Companions to begin professional training.

The puppy raisers knew what they were signing up for. They knew they would bond and fall in love with the puppies they were raising. They knew it would be so very difficult to give back the amazing and wonderful dogs they’d raised in the hopes that they would fulfill their purpose of becoming life-changing assistance dogs.

Our puppy raisers are often asked, “How can you ever give them back?” It’s a simple question with a complex answer. We asked the Hero Litter puppy raisers to share a little bit about their puppy raising experience and why they do what they do.

“I believe it is a privilege and an honor to be able to raise any Canine Companions puppy,” shares Sue, Hala’s puppy raiser. “I am proud of Hala and myself for all we have accomplished in the last 18 months. Believe me, the emotions were high and many tears were shed, but I am looking to the future and what amazing things she will do. I know Hala will give it her all and no matter what happens, she will make a difference in someone’s life!”



“Raising Harpo was so much fun! It was so rewarding to watch her grow from a silly little puppy to a strong, confident and still silly big dog. We wish her all the luck in professional training and know she’ll make us proud!”



“Hudson was such a blessing to us,” says Diesta, Hudson’s puppy raiser.  “He loved to learn and would respond so wonderfully to praise; his tail seemed to always be wagging and he just exuded happiness! While on outings, people constantly commented on his demeanor.  The past 18 months were so exciting for us, as we were able to share the growth and continued success of our pup. We will certainly miss him, as he made us smile every day…and he was always smiling back.”



Holly’s puppy raiser Donna says, “The very day I picked up Holly, our adventures began. She had such a spirit and a never-ending curiosity of ‘what’s next?’  Holly made us smile, laugh and just as important, she made us proud.” Donna continues, “We are so appreciative of Eukanuba for sponsoring the Hero Litter and their longtime support of Canine Companions for Independence. I’m truly honored to have been part of all this.”

Holly and Hoagy

Holly and Hoagy

Hoagy’s puppy raiser Julie says, “There were endless trainable moments! Hoagy was always learning, growing and mastering a task.  It was so much fun!” She continues, “There was also love. Hoagy always wanted to please.  He had a very strong desire to nurture and shared so much love with us. We will miss him so much and there is a deep sense of loss. The bond that developed between our family and Hoagy was very strong and I continually had to remind my family of his purpose. I am so proud to have helped Hoagy on his journey towards becoming a Canine Companions assistance dog.”

Thank you for the dedication and love of our mission. We are so proud of all the dogs!

Take a look at the video below to see the journey of the Hero Litter.

Watch our graduation ceremonies from last week.

Make a donation in honor of the Hero Litter.

Posted in Assistance Dogs, Canine Companions, Eukanuba, Puppy Raising | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment