Saturday, April 30, 2011

And, Last But Not Least...

Our last field trip of the field-trip-a-palooza was to Canine Companions for Independence. This was our seventh or eigth field trip/special event in about 3 weeks. It's hard trying to shove all this in a small amount of time, but that's the way it worked. I didn't set this one up, but I was glad we went. Hubby even took the day off to join us. He saves a week of vacation so he can go on field trips with us. If we don't do field trips during the week, or we don't use all of his field trip days, we go to the beach for a long weekend. Either way, I say lucky hubby, but even better, lucky us.

CCI has five offices across the country. The facility we visited covers at least five states and focuses mainly on wheelchair bound recipients. The dogs are completely free to the recipients and the organization runs mainly off donations. The Busch (Seaworld and beer) family and Darden restaurants (Olive Garden, Red Lobster) is a primary sponsor for the location in Orlando. They breed all of their own dogs, and do not accept dogs from the "outside". At any one time, they can have as many as 30 dogs at their facility at one time. That's a lot of clean up, if you know what I mean.

This is the family in front of the donor board. Lots of people give lots of money to keep this place running. I think it's fantastic.

 There is a dorm, complete with kitchen and living areas, for the recipients of the dogs. They MUST come for a very intense 2 week training. Part of what goes on is a matching of dog with recipient and/or family. That is one of the most important steps. Each room is decorated differently, but there is most definitely a canine theme. Can you tell the theme of the two pics above? The recipients stay for free, are educated for free, and get the run of the campus pretty much. Everything is wheelchair accessible. 

 This is one of the trainers, Jen, and she brought Cole III with her. All dogs are given a name by the corporate offices in California. Every dog born in the same litter as Cole that came to this facility has a name that starts with the letter C. Cole is a third, which means there were 2 other Coles before him. They were either retired or they passed away. Jen is not wheelchair bound, but spends a lot of time in one while training the dogs. It helps her see things from the perspective of  the recipient and it helps when training the dogs so they know what to expect.

 This is Cole working on pulling skills. Pulling skills can be used for opening doors, opening freezer doors at the grocery store, bringing a laundry basket, etc. One command can lead to freedom for so many people. Combining two or three comands can mean freedom to shop, go to restaurants or movies, and just a reason to get out in the world.

 This is Cole handing an item to Jen. They teach the dogs several ways to retrieve. That way, depending on the limitations of the recipient, the dogs can be even bigger helpers. Amazing to see the work the dogs and trainers do.

 Since the facilities run mainly on donations, this wall is part of their fundraising. You can purchase a tile, have it engraved, and place it on this wall. Some people have bought tiles for their dogs, their families, and even the trainers.

 Even dogs need to go to the park and play. These are two different playgrounds set up for the dogs. Funny to see big Labs going down the little slide.

 Ths is one of the pics that is put together using other pictures. All of the pics used in this collage is of the recipients and their dogs and families. I think they're neat, but not a project I would want to do.
 Charles Schulz, duh, is a sponsor. Who would have thunk it?

This is on the floor as you walk in. The big girl took the pictures. She liked this so I included it.

They even have a gift shop. Dolls that represent what they do and what they are about fill this place. Some of it's way cool.

It was a great field trip. I am so glad we went. They told us about trainer families. Trainer families get the dogs at about 2-3 months and keep them for a year to 16 months, depending on the dog and the training. Then the dogs go to one of the training facilities to keep up their "schooling" and eventually go to a family. A statistic I thought was pretty weird was that up to 65% of the dogs aren't able to finish training for one reason or another. Those dogs are then adopted out to good homes. Hubby, being the sucker that he is, picked up an adoption form. I am happy to say that he has yet to fill it out and I am ok with that. But, once again, they will match a dog with a family to make sure there is a good fit. I might keep that in mind if the paperwork ever gets turned in.

Our last activity was supposed to be a play yesterday. We didn't go since I have two snotty kids. We were looking forward to it, but I didn't want to interrupt anyone else's play by hacking, coughing, and snotting. So we went to the park instead. It's only a few minutes from the house if we needed to go home and nobody would be bothered by my snotty kids. That worked for us.

Have a great day. 

1 comment:

Mermie said...

cannot believe how big my babies are getting. And beautiful!! Love...............