For Canine Companions for Independence, this weekend is not only the celebration of America’s Independence Day, but it also marks the official celebration of the organization’s 40thanniversary.
“This anniversary is not just an anniversary, but a special opportunity for us to say thank you to the thousands of people who have made a difference in the lives of people with disabilities over the past 40 years,” said Paul Mundell, chief executive officer of Canine Companions for Independence. “Our growth and success since 1975 has stemmed from working with amazing breeder caretakers, puppy raisers, instructors, volunteers, staff, and, of course, our graduate teams. From our first service dog, Abdul, to honoring our 4,500th placement last year, together, we celebrate 40 years of independence.”
Over these past 40 years, Canine Companions for Independence has been enhancing the lives of people with disabilities with its four types of assistance dogs that master more than 40 specialized commands: service dogs, skilled companions, hearing dogs and facility dogs. Canine Companions has trained and placed more than 4,750 assistance dogs with program graduates, including 130 dogs with wounded military veterans and more than 1,200 dogs with children.
“Our 40th anniversary is a chance not only to look back at our achievements, but also look ahead to the great things that are on the horizon,” said Jean Schulz, National Board Member and Board Chair Emeritus. “As a Canine Companions Board Member since 1986, I can truly say that I am confident that Canine Companions will retain its legendary ‘family feeling,’ especially as it explores new science and concepts that will enable this special organization to place more highly trained assistance dogs with the people who need them.”
All Canine Companions dogs and services are provided free of charge. Individual participants in the program are not responsible for any of the substantial costs involved in the lengthy process of breeding, raising (each dog is raised by a volunteer puppy raiser) and training each Canine Companions assistance dog.
“When I first started raising puppies with Canine Companions, most people didn’t even know about assistance dogs for people with physical disabilities,” says Marty Marlatt, who began raising her first Canine Companions puppy in 1989 and has raised 22 dogs since then. “I get back so much more out of puppy raising than what I’ve put into it. You’ll change someone’s life as a puppy raiser. How could you not do that?”
Canine Companions for Independence will be recognizing its 40th anniversary at annual DogFest Walk ‘n Roll events across the country over the next few months. This signature event brings together dozens of communities in a show of support for Canine Companions’ annual fundraising campaign.