Archive for the CCI Category

In Support of CCI

Posted in CCI with tags on February 7, 2011 by czriley

As some of you reading this know, I am a volunteer for Canine Companions for Independence. I am a Breeder Caretaker, which means I have custody of one of their breeder dogs. My job is to take care of her, help her whelp her litters, then care for the puppies until they are 8 weeks old. Now that my breeder is retired, meaning she is done having her litters and has been spayed, my only job is to take care of her.
Lately there has been much negative publicity about CCI, including some really hateful comments on the CCI Facebook page. The basic story, as I know it, is this – A doctor had a CCI Service Dog. He was doing something with the dog that CCI thought endangered the dog. I don’t know exactly what he was doing, but it sounds like part of it was allowing the dog off-leash in unenclosed areas. CCI worked with the man for a year to try to resolve the problem, and apparently the man did not change whatever it was that he was doing. So CCI took the Service Dog away from him.
Let me say first – I feel sorry for the man’s loss of his dog. I’ve seen firsthand how much these dogs mean to their people and it must be heartbreaking to lose one. I also feel sorry for the dog, who must be missing his person and his job helping that person. But I also know that CCI would not make this decision lightly or arbitrarily. They worked with this man for a YEAR, and yet he refused to change his behavior. The man knew if he did not change that the dog would be taken away, and yet he refused to change. Now he’s been quoted as saying that if all it takes is making sure his dog is on leash all the time then he’s happy to do that. But, if that was all it took, then why didn’t he do that before?
I do not believe that CCI is staffed by saints, but I also do not believe that it is staffed by cruel, heartless people. As far as I can tell, both from my own perspective and from talking and listening to other volunteers, the reason we’re all involved in CCI is because we want to help people. And because we love dogs. And CCI has been helping people, thousands of people, for 35 years now. And they do it for free. These dogs, specially bred and highly trained, are given to the people who need them completely free of charge. Yes, CCI does retain legal ownership of the dog, but only so they are able to protect the dog if the need arises, as it seems to have in this case. And I have to say that, as a breeder caretaker, the thought that CCI continues to watch over “my” puppies when I no longer can helps me sleep at night. I love every one of the 39 pups that were born here, and letting them go was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Knowing that they would always be safe and loved helped.
Everyone involved in CCI, from the Breeder Caretakers and Puppy Raisers to the trainers, vet clinic, and kennel staff to the people who staff the regional and national offices pours their heart and soul into each and every one of these dogs. I think that’s part of what makes them so special. CCI makes it clear from day one just what they expect from those of us they trust to care for one of their dogs. I love my dog and would do whatever it takes to keep her – why would this man not do the same?