Holiday Safety Tips

The holidays are quickly approaching and as you sip cocoa, warming your toes by the
fireplace, planning all the parties and fun events, you might be thinking, “What about the dog?” Have no fear, Canine Companions is here with your quick holiday survival guide.

Here are some helpful holiday tips:

rachel-50101. Use the crate. If you’re going to a holiday party or traveling to visit family or friends and can’t leave the dog at home, take a crate with you. The crate provides a safe resting place for the dog during dinner, crowded areas or other activities that could be stressful or too excitable for your dog. Don’t wait for your dog to show stress or too much excitement; plan crate time around activities instead.

2. Manage interactions with guests. Half of the battle with appropriate interactions is learning when and where these should happen. Your dog doesn’t have to be the greeter and too many new guests can be stressful. Take your dog or puppy out to practice appropriate greetings if the guests can follow basic etiquette recommended for the age of the dog. This includes appropriate etiquette around children and food.

3. Check the environment for hazards. Holiday plants like poinsettias, holly and mistletoe are toxic to dogs so be sure they are out of reach. Be aware of other hazards or poisons that may be in the yard or home as well.

4. Keep your home and décor puppy safe. If you have a Christmas tree, be sure to keep tempting ornaments and tinsel out of reach. Be sure the dog or puppy can’t get to the tree or is always supervised as drinking water out of the tree base or eating the needles can be toxic. Most gifts, but specifically those containing food, should be stored out of the dog’s reach. You may want to put baby gates up at entryways to the room with the tree.img_4813-edit

5. Incorporate exercise. Exercise is always important, however, most people’s routines are thrown off by holidays and vacations and this can affect the dog. Be sure to plan an exercise routine that works for you as well as your dog. Exercise before a potentially stressful activity. If your dog has been in its crate for a bit be sure to give time for a break and a walk. Try and keep the dog’s exercise routine as consistent as possible.

Holidays are a joyous time of year. Planning ahead will help you and your pup have a safe and fun time while enjoying the holiday spirit.

We wish you a joyous and happy holiday season!

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Puppy Poncho, All Grown Up

Poncho, named by PetSmart, isn’t so little anymore! Poncho turned 1 year old on September 30, and he’s growing into a remarkable, well-socialized Canine Companions dog. At 13 months of age, Poncho is busy working on some extremely important commands that will help teach advanced commands once Poncho enters professional training at Canine Companions Southwest Regional Training Center.

Mellow Poncho is currently working on the “visit” command, which places his head gently on his handler’s lap, and “back,” which tells Poncho to walk backwards in a straight line. These two skills will come in handy as a Canine Companions assistance dog when learningimg_2356 to tug open doors and deliver dropped items.

“Poncho still loves the ‘sit’ command,” says puppy raiser Jolie. “It’s always accompanied by a pat on the head and he has loved ‘sit’ from puppyhood.” He also love playmates with his Canine Companions puppy friends. Always a social butterfly and happy to meet as many people as he can, Poncho has been on a vacation, to church and getting socialization at the mall.

Puppy raiser Jolie has cherished every moment of raising Poncho. In a few months, Jolie knows Poncho will be on his way to professional training, learning to become a Canine Companions assistance dog. “He’s so smart, kind and loving,” she says. “He’s going to be hard to turn in for professional training, but I know Canine Companions’ program works and Poncho was bred to do great things. I’m sure that’s exactly what he will end up doing.”

Learn how you can Give a Dog a Job and give more veterans enhanced independence.

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Puppy Love

Jennifer loves puppies. Who doesn’t? But Jennifer has put her love of puppies to use: helping change lives as a volunteer puppy raiser for Canine Companions. “I get a new puppy every 18 months. I experience all the joys of them being young,” explains Jennifer.
“They are so cute when they are puppies! Maybe it is selfish, but I think I’d be a dog hoarder if I didn’t raise puppies, because I’d keep adopting puppies! kinkeade-puppy2Being a puppy raiser has been unbelievably rewarding.”

Jennifer, her husband Scott and two sons Austin and Mason are currently raising their fourth puppy.
“Raising puppies has been great for my sons. They love taking the dogs places when the puppies are old enough,” says Jennifer. “We’ll go to the movies, restaurants or to school to pick the boys up.” Tyler was the first puppy the family raised, and their current puppy, Kinkeade, was named after the Honorable Judge Ed Kinkeade. Judge Kinkeade, a Canine Companions national board member, was an instrumental force in the opening of the new
South Central Training Center in Texas along with Baylor Scott & White Health.

“If a dog can give someone so much independence, how could I not raise a puppy? And it gives me the opportunity to always have puppies,” says Jennifer. “I love jennifer-with-puppy-kinkeade-meeting-namesakeeverything about the process. I love that Canine Companions retains ownership of their dogs, so they are always there for the dogs, no matter what. As puppy raisers, we put so much work into these little guys — we want to know they are in good hands and that someone is keeping them safe and healthy.”

“These dogs are so good. They were bred to be highly motivated to work with calm, reliable temperaments,” says Jennifer.

If you love puppies as much as Jennifer and her family, she would recommend you consider puppy raising as well. “Canine Companions will walk you through the steps and provide lots of resources and support. There is always someone you can call if you ever have questions,” says Jennifer. But she does warn that there is one negative aspect to raising puppies. “If you are trying to get something done and you take your puppy with you — you always get stopped. I can never run a quick errand if I have a puppy with me. If that’s the worst thing, it’s pretty good.”

Learn more about becoming a volunteer puppy raiser.

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Dog Lover Makes A Difference Through DogFest

Jane Rieger is a self-described dog lover. “I have always loved dogs, particularly Golden Retrievers,” she explains. Jane discovered Canine Companions for Independence many years ago, and always followed Canine Companions’ activities and updates online. Eventually, DogFest Walk ‘n Roll provided the perfect avenue for Jane to express her support.

“I’m so impressed by the capabilities that Canine Companions assistance dogs have and everything they have been trained to do,” Jane says. “The special bond they have with their partners and how they make such a difference in their lives is awe-inspiring.”

quincy-smileWhen Jane’s beloved Golden Retriever, Quincy, passed away, she wanted to do something to honor him. “I wanted to channel my emotions to help someone else,” explains Jane. “I saw that DogFest San Diego was coming up on October 29, so I decided to focus on raising money for Canine Companions in memory of Quincy.”

Jane’s goal was to raise $10,000, enough to earn the privilege of naming a Canine Companions puppy in honor of her beloved pet. “I am proud to say that I have surpassed my goal!” reports Jane.

Jane is proud of her fundraising success and happy to share her secrets. “I think of it like dating – if you don’t ask, you won’t get the date!” Jane says. “My friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and others in the community have all been very supportive. I’ve gotten generous donations from my vet, dentist, realtor and insurance agent! And, I’m fortunate to work at Intuit, which has a very generous donation-matching program. A lot of my friends at work have donated. We’ve had our donations matched dollar for dollarnashville-df-3 and that has contributed a lot toward my total amount fundraised.”

Now, Jane is ready to celebrate at DogFest San Diego! “I am looking forward to introducing our newest Golden Retriever, who we just adopted in September, to all of the fun!” Jane explains.

So far, DogFest is the only Canine Companions-related activity she has participated in, but that is about to change. “Soon I will be attending a puppy class, as I may apply to be a volunteer puppy sitter or a volunteer puppy raiser in the future!” she says.

Our tails are wagging!

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Back to School with Laura Numeroff LIVE!

Hi there, it’s Max, the cutest canine star of Raising a Hero by Laura Numeroff. This is my first time being a guest blogger and I can’t stop wagging about it! I hear there are a whole lot of dog-with-bookCanine Companions dogs and puppies who are back at school, learning just like me!

My friend Laura wrote a whole story featuring me and my puppy raiser Sam. Lots of people love reading about our adventures—lots of dogs too—as well as reading Laura’s other great children’s books like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. She gets questions from kids and schools all over the world about her books. Guess what? During two events on Facebook Live Laura is excited to answer young reader’s questions, talk about Canine Companions, and share about her life as a children’s author.

Join her live on Facebook on October laura-with-dog6 at 11:00am Pacific Time and November 15 at 10:30am Pacific Time.

I know that Canine Companions dogs love to snuggle and are always ready to lend an ear, so purchase a signed copy of Raising a Hero today and learn why Sam is raising me to be a real hero for someone with a disability.

Learn about raising a puppy here.

Click here to find more information on Raising a Hero.

Watch Laura live here.

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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”
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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!

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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.

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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.

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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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