It’s International Assistance Dog Week

Brushing Karina

I feel kind of old tonight. Why, you ask? It’s because there’s a new group of families at Canine Companions for Independence in Orlando this week being matched with assistance dogs.

The timing is impeccable as the group kicked off training as International Assistance Dog Week arrived.

Service dog candidates
These are the dogs being matched at the August 2014 team training at Canine Companions in Orlando.

I remember arriving at Canine Companions for Independence in May with excitement and trepidation about what loomed ahead for J.P., Paige and I. I remember looking at all the dogs the first day and wondering which one would come home with us.

I also remember everything falling apart in the middle of the training and wondering if we would even get a dog.

While it’s only been a short time since Karina came home with us, I am certain we were matched with the perfect dog and remain grateful to the staff at Canine Companions for all the long hours they worked with us and the rest of the families to make sure we went home with the right new members of our families.

Hindsight is always 20/20, but there are some things I would say to those who are embarking on the journey this week:

  • Enjoy the moment: When I arrived at Canine Companions, I thought about it as going to college and having classes and homework. It was instead more like a moment in life I would never forget and treasure for many years to come. I only wish my family had been able to enjoy the full two weeks instead of just one.
  • Trust the trainers: There’s no secret agenda. They’re working to make sure the match is perfect. Even though you may prefer one dog, they’ve spent months getting them ready for these two weeks and reviewing paperwork and the pre-interviews. Give every dog an equal opportunity.
  • Pay attention: I was amazed at how much information was given in the lectures and training exercises. Pay very close attention to the grooming session. You’ll be using what you learn every single day.
  • Avoid test anxiety: The staff wants you to succeed. Don’t get overanxious about the final exam and public assistance test. If you listen in class, ask questions and read the handbook, you’ll do fine.
  • Make friends: Spend time with your fellow classmates. You have a lot in common. Talk to them, learn about what led them to Canine Companions and find out how to stay in touch after team training ends. I wish we could have a reunion with our group.

At the Cousins’ household, we’re still learning new things about Karina each day. Paige is now saying she wishes we had done all of this sooner, but I think it happened at the perfect time and we got the perfect dog.

For those with questions about assistance dogs and International Assistance Dog Week, a friend of ours from team training did a great post in her blog, A New Leash on Life. I highly recommend reading it.

See? Another reason to stay in touch with those who go through this life-changing process with you.

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Cynthia Weirr

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Cynthia Weirr

Create A Better Version Of Yourself


Because we’re all recovering from something.

Trading Barbs With Barb

Irreverent Musings With A Message

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