Not all puppies get to cheer on their local NBA team, but Canine Companions® puppy Zari is a lucky one. Now nearly 8 months old, Zari attended her first Sacramento Kings game, along with five other Canine Companions puppies. She took in the sights and sounds and then settled in and slept right through the end of the game when the Kings took home the win!
The Sacramento Kings have donated game tickets to Canine Companions puppy raisers in the area for years. Attending games offers a unique opportunity for our puppies to experience something they might do in the future when they are working as a Canine Companions assistance dog. Many Canine Companions graduates take their assistance dogs to stadiums and arenas for sporting events. Graduates need their dogs to be responsive and comfortable, even when there are a lot of distractions around. It is important for the puppy to be exposed to a number of socialization opportunities, as long as it’s age appropriate for the pup. All puppies mature differently and some may be ready for these types of experiences before others.
Right off the bat, Zari was asked to “wait” at the security checkpoint, before making her way through the metal detector. She will definitely have to do this in the future when she goes to games, concerts and airports so it was great practice! During the game, Zari ignored pieces of popcorn on the ground and goodies held by kids right at her eye level, not an easy task! She also walked nicely by her puppy raiser, in the proper “let’s go” position, through large crowds while people “oohed” and “ahhed” as she walked by. Zari practiced walking down large flights of stairs, never a step ahead of her puppy raiser. This is a very important skill to ensure that the handler doesn’t become off-balance and fall while navigating the stairs. At their seats, Zari remained calm in a “down,” while watching the flashing lights of the arena and hearing blow horns, game buzzers and rowdy fans. Overall, Zari handled her first NBA basketball game like a champ! There are more Sacramento Kings games in Zari’s future and she will surely be a basketball fan for life!
We are so appreciative to the Sacramento Kings for giving our volunteer puppy raisers the opportunity to socialize Canine Companions puppies at their games. Not only do the puppies benefit from this but it is a great opportunity to help spread awareness of our mission and ultimately help to match more Canine Companions assistance dogs with people with disabilities.