The Daily Spike: Assistance dogs are paired with humans at ‘Diamonds in the Ruff’

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Have you ever ever held a 9-week-old pet? I extremely suggest it.

Final Saturday, Dana Perino acquired to carry two very cute 9-week-old puppies.

Dana, Spike and I went to “Diamonds within the Ruff,” a particular occasion celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Canine Companions for Independence Northeast Area’s Miller Household Campus. The Miller Household Campus is one in all six amenities across the nation the place superior coaching flip the pups into full-fledged help canine. It’s additionally the place they practice their human companions on easy methods to work with their new canine companion.

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5 of the six campuses have accessible dorm rooms the place the graduates stick with their new canine, freed from cost, for 2 weeks of group coaching. And on the finish of the coaching, there’s a commencement ceremony the place the puppy-raiser fingers over the help canine’s leash to its human — a really, very particular occasion for everybody concerned.

Within the 10 years of its existence, the Miller Household campus has proudly matched greater than 500 canine and positioned about 1,200 puppies in volunteers’ houses. So there was quite a bit to rejoice, and the occasion was an enormous success.

Perino, host of “The Every day Briefing” and co-host of “The 5,” has been extremely supportive of my efforts with Spike and Canine Companions for Independence. She not solely participated within the festivities however gave an unimaginable speech that touched on our experiences at Fox with Spike. And discuss a small world — one of many puppy-raisers on the occasion, Heidi Cummings, was the FBI agent that did Dana’s background verify earlier than she took her White Home job as George W. Bush’s Press Secretary!

John Miller, President of the Board for CCI and a serious benefactor of the campus, talked about how rewarding it’s to see the affect these canine have on folks’s lives. Paige Mazzoni, CEO of the group, additional spoke about increasing the sixth facility in Ohio to coach extra canine and home graduates as CCI continues to develop and increase.

Quite a lot of the day centered on the work that the group is doing to supply help canine for veterans with PTSD. Paige described the success of the early pilot applications with the Veteran’s Administration and detailed the numerous expansions shifting ahead. However a few veteran recipients of help canine actually stole the present.

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Mike Carrasquillo, injured in Afghanistan, talked about how his canine Ojai has modified his life and pulled him out of some very darkish locations. He did this whereas entertaining us with a comedy routine that pulled from his experiences on the battlefield, in addition to his two-year restoration at Walter Reed and his ongoing wrestle with bodily and psychological disabilities.

Marine Sergeant Caleb Davisson acquired his help canine Velvet a yr in the past as a part of a pilot program with the Division of Veterans Affairs, however he and Velvet by no means had an official “commencement” ceremony. So Velvet’s puppy-raiser, Susan Manuel, handed over the leash to Caleb in sort-of a mini ceremony, and Dana acquired to current them each with their commencement certificates. There have been tears of pleasure throughout.

And much more excellent news — Emma Phillips and Lisa Jennings of PenFed Credit score Union introduced not solely the puppies they’re elevating, but additionally a major donation from PenFed to assist Canine Companions increase their veterans program.

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One theme that Dana, Paige and others come across is the emotion of the day: Whereas it’s unhappy for the puppy-raisers to say goodbye to their pups — and hand over the leashes — it is touching understanding the pups will quickly be altering somebody’s life.

I agree with my fellow puppy-raiser Jackie Cheshire, who mentioned it greatest: All of us get extra out of it than we put in.

To be taught extra about Canine Companions for Independence, go to CCI.org.

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