At just 9 fluffy weeks old, Canine Companions puppy Zari is well on her way to becoming an assistance dog for someone with a disability. She and her eight siblings were born in Sacramento, California in the home of a Canine Companions volunteer. Zari will be raised in the home where she was born, alongside her mom, Mari, who will make a great playmate and good role model.

When she was with her litter mates, Zari enjoyed playing in the ball pit, going down the puppy slide and playing with the puppy jungle gym. Described by her puppy raiser as a bold and independent pup, she also could be found napping by herself at times. Sacramento can get very warm, and on those days, Zari would snuggle against a frozen water bottle to keep cool. Smart pup!

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Socialization starts early for Canine Companions future assistance dogs. During the first eight weeks of their lives, the Z litter pups were introduced to different sights, sounds and activities to prepare them for the many adventures they have in store. One form of early socialization is getting comfortable with different grooming activities such as nail trimming. Between Zari and her siblings, there were 162 nails to be trimmed on a regular basis! To make nail trimming easier, puppies are often “cradled,” meaning they lay on their backs in a relaxed manner on someone’s lap. Not only does cradling help with nail trimming, but it’s great practice to help the puppy become comfortable with being manipulated and having its feet touched.

There’s always an adjustment when pups say goodbye to their litter mates. They go from having many playmates to often one human playmate and perhaps another dog or two. It’s not quite the same, but it’s still fun! Luckily for Zari, her brother Zoom is also being raised in the Sacramento area, so they’ll have many opportunities to see each other at puppy classes, outings, events and playdates.

For the next year and a half, Zari’s adventures will include cheering on the Sacramento Kings at NBA games, trips to Lake Tahoe, flights on Southwest Airlines, and, when she’s old enough, a trip to Disneyland. We hope you will follow along with us while puppy Zari navigates the world of puppy-hood on her journey to do great things as an assistance dog.

Click here to learn more about puppy raising.