A doggone good 4-H project | TheFencePost.com

A doggone good 4-H project

Peggy SandersKatelynn Drury and Toby, the puppy Katelynn is raising for Canine Companions for Independence.

Recently 4-H has come a long way since it was primarily cooking and cows, and Katelynn Drury of rural Sterling, Colo., is in finishing an interesting project, training a beginning level service dog. Katelynn is a member of the Chamrocks 4-H Club at Sterling.

Katelynn started 4-H with dairy cattle when she lived in Connecticut for six years and decided that she was ready for a different project when she moved to Sterling. She was interested in doing something with dogs, but

not formal training and competitions. Her mother, Carol, had heard of Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) and shared information with her. Because puppy raisers have to be 18-years-old, Carol is officially listed as the puppy raiser, but Katelynn does the project.

Katelynn’s black Labrador named Toby came from Canine Companions headquarters in California. When he was shipped from the headquarters at Santa Rosa, Calif., CCI paid that expense. After that, the Drury family pays all of his expenses including veterinary services and feed and will pay for his return to California for his advanced and team classes. Puppy raisers like Katelynn take a puppy into their home for 15-18 months, teach basis commands and socialize the dog by taking him everywhere: schools, nursing homes, church, basketball games, hotels, long car trips, even restaurants, where dogs are not generally allowed. Toby wears a vest with the Canine Companions for Independence logo on it which signifies he is in training to be a service dog, and he is welcomed in.

“When we go into a restaurant, he goes right in with us. Once we get to the table, we use the ‘under’ command. Toby gets under the table and stays there, unless we take him when we go to the restroom or for other reasons ask him to come out. At church we get a little extra room in a pew and he lies three-quarters of the way under the pew,” said Katelynn. “If we were to fly with us, Toby would sit right with us in his own seat or perhaps under the seat. He would be treated as a service dog, though still in training.”

At the first mention of a service dog, most people think of seeing eye dogs. Canine Companions for Independence instead facilitates the use of Service Dogs, Skilled Companions, Hearing Dogs and Facility Dogs, all of which also provide emotional and social support. Each Canine Companion assistance dog has the job of doing tasks that are physically hard or even impossible for the disabled teammate. Service dogs must have a steady temperament and problem-solving skills. They are required to exude calmness and confidence, and must be in the best health. Hence the breeds used are Labradors – black and yellow, Golden retrievers or a mix between a Labrador and a Golden.

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Service Dogs assist adults with daily activities allowing for a more independent lifestyle. These adults usually have a job, are out within their community running errands and are generally fairly active. Tasks such as turning on lights, picking up dropped items, and other common needs can be accomplished by a trained dog.

Skilled Companions work with children or adults, under the supervision of another member of the household or a caregiver when the disabled person does not live independently. Skilled Companions work with a facilitator as well as the person who needs assistance.

Hearing Dogs alert their keepers to ringing telephones, doorbells, the timer on an appliance, fire alarms, burglar alarms and other sounds. Those who use American Sign Language, can also teach signs to the dog.

Facility Dogs are used in classrooms, nursing homes and other professional environments and they are brought in for a minimum of 20 hours per week. The presence of these dogs encourage patients by comforting them which in turn helps them heal. The presence of the dog seems to produce a positive outlook in residents and patients. Canine Companions are used in various active ways from assisting with stretching exercises to providing balance for a person walking.

CCI gives members a Puppy Raisers Manual and offers classes on puppy raising. The manual reads much like a child development book with chapters on puppy personalities (insecure, assertive, excitable, dependent or independent), puppy development by age, feeding; health, safety, commands and socialization.

The nearest puppy raiser classes for Katelynn and Carol are in Denver, Colo., and they try to attend at least twice a month, though classes are held weekly, Monday nights and Saturday mornings, and could be attended more frequently. “The main meeting area is at a church but we also go on special outings such as a hospital or a park or we do some special training. Along with using the information in the manual, it is a learn as you go program. Having the opportunity to talk with other puppy raisers at the classes is most beneficial,” Katelynn said. “Each puppy raiser is assigned a mentor for support.”

A recommended list of additional reading is included in the guidebook. “They give you a lot of tools to help you out. You don’t need to have any experience with dogs,” said Katelynn. “A few rules are hard and fast. For example unless you are in a fenced-in area, when you are outside the dog must always be on a leash.”

CCI retains ownership of the puppies and dogs, until retirement. Dogs generally retire from service after seven or eight years and they are then offered back to the puppy raiser family.

Toby will be shipped to Oceanside, Calif., in November and will spend two weeks being tested for health and temperament. “He will be given preliminary tests to see if he is qualified to continue his education. They will want to see if he pulls too much on the leash, if he has anxiety about being alone in a kennel for long periods of time, is very vocal, or has other quirks that would disqualify him from continuing in the program,” said Katelynn. “If the dog is physically sound but his behavioral tendencies are not as reliable, as are needed for Canine Companions, search and rescue organizations, bomb squads or seeing eye dog groups may have a use for him.”

If Toby passes those tests, he will go through two semesters, two months each, of advanced training which consists of more commands and further testing. At that point, candidates who have been selected, after a rigorous application process, to receive a service dog will come together for two weeks of team training with their canine companion. The puppy and his new handler will be known as a graduate team. “My mom and I plan to attend the graduation. When I hand his leash over to the person whom Toby is to assist, Toby will have had all of his advanced training, his team training and passed his tests,” said Katelynn. “Giving him, with his leash, is part of the graduation ceremony. At that point Toby will no longer be ‘my’ dog but will go to work and live with the person who needs assistance or uses Toby in a facility.”

Puppy raisers have to apply and be accepted into the program. Once they have a puppy, monthly progress reports are filled out by the puppy raisers. The two page report asks where the dog went that month, what he is eating and how much, and if there have been any problems. Only an approved puppy raiser, or a person who was in the puppy raiser system in the past, can “puppy sit” a dog in training.

 “I have learned patience in training Toby,” Katelynn said. “Additionally, it really is interesting to see the interaction when Toby is at different places in the community. People who you would never guess have any disability come up to you and say, ‘I have this disease and in five years I will not be able to walk.’ People will open up and talk to you about this. Toby also bridges the gap with really shy individuals. Kids love to come up and talk. CCI is new and different, especially in smaller towns because it is the larger cities where the organization is more well known,” Katelynn said. “It is amazing what a dog can be trained to do if you know how to train him.”

Currently 63 puppies are being raised in Colorado and there are 36 graduate teams in the state. More information can be found at http://www.CanineCompanions.org or http://www.CCI.org. The country is divided into the North Central, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest regions. Colorado has a satellite office for the Southwest region. You can contact the Colorado office at (719) 260-6151 or (303) 462-4646 or administrative assistant Kelly Gorman at KGorman@CCI.org.

Presentations are offered for schools, civic groups and meetings. Check out the link to the presentation page to find out how you can request a program to learn how you might be able to reach out and help others in this “doggone” way.

Recently 4-H has come a long way since it was primarily cooking and cows, and Katelynn Drury of rural Sterling, Colo., is in finishing an interesting project, training a beginning level service dog. Katelynn is a member of the Chamrocks 4-H Club at Sterling.

Katelynn started 4-H with dairy cattle when she lived in Connecticut for six years and decided that she was ready for a different project when she moved to Sterling. She was interested in doing something with dogs, but

not formal training and competitions. Her mother, Carol, had heard of Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) and shared information with her. Because puppy raisers have to be 18-years-old, Carol is officially listed as the puppy raiser, but Katelynn does the project.

Katelynn’s black Labrador named Toby came from Canine Companions headquarters in California. When he was shipped from the headquarters at Santa Rosa, Calif., CCI paid that expense. After that, the Drury family pays all of his expenses including veterinary services and feed and will pay for his return to California for his advanced and team classes. Puppy raisers like Katelynn take a puppy into their home for 15-18 months, teach basis commands and socialize the dog by taking him everywhere: schools, nursing homes, church, basketball games, hotels, long car trips, even restaurants, where dogs are not generally allowed. Toby wears a vest with the Canine Companions for Independence logo on it which signifies he is in training to be a service dog, and he is welcomed in.

“When we go into a restaurant, he goes right in with us. Once we get to the table, we use the ‘under’ command. Toby gets under the table and stays there, unless we take him when we go to the restroom or for other reasons ask him to come out. At church we get a little extra room in a pew and he lies three-quarters of the way under the pew,” said Katelynn. “If we were to fly with us, Toby would sit right with us in his own seat or perhaps under the seat. He would be treated as a service dog, though still in training.”

At the first mention of a service dog, most people think of seeing eye dogs. Canine Companions for Independence instead facilitates the use of Service Dogs, Skilled Companions, Hearing Dogs and Facility Dogs, all of which also provide emotional and social support. Each Canine Companion assistance dog has the job of doing tasks that are physically hard or even impossible for the disabled teammate. Service dogs must have a steady temperament and problem-solving skills. They are required to exude calmness and confidence, and must be in the best health. Hence the breeds used are Labradors – black and yellow, Golden retrievers or a mix between a Labrador and a Golden.

Service Dogs assist adults with daily activities allowing for a more independent lifestyle. These adults usually have a job, are out within their community running errands and are generally fairly active. Tasks such as turning on lights, picking up dropped items, and other common needs can be accomplished by a trained dog.

Skilled Companions work with children or adults, under the supervision of another member of the household or a caregiver when the disabled person does not live independently. Skilled Companions work with a facilitator as well as the person who needs assistance.

Hearing Dogs alert their keepers to ringing telephones, doorbells, the timer on an appliance, fire alarms, burglar alarms and other sounds. Those who use American Sign Language, can also teach signs to the dog.

Facility Dogs are used in classrooms, nursing homes and other professional environments and they are brought in for a minimum of 20 hours per week. The presence of these dogs encourage patients by comforting them which in turn helps them heal. The presence of the dog seems to produce a positive outlook in residents and patients. Canine Companions are used in various active ways from assisting with stretching exercises to providing balance for a person walking.

CCI gives members a Puppy Raisers Manual and offers classes on puppy raising. The manual reads much like a child development book with chapters on puppy personalities (insecure, assertive, excitable, dependent or independent), puppy development by age, feeding; health, safety, commands and socialization.

The nearest puppy raiser classes for Katelynn and Carol are in Denver, Colo., and they try to attend at least twice a month, though classes are held weekly, Monday nights and Saturday mornings, and could be attended more frequently. “The main meeting area is at a church but we also go on special outings such as a hospital or a park or we do some special training. Along with using the information in the manual, it is a learn as you go program. Having the opportunity to talk with other puppy raisers at the classes is most beneficial,” Katelynn said. “Each puppy raiser is assigned a mentor for support.”

A recommended list of additional reading is included in the guidebook. “They give you a lot of tools to help you out. You don’t need to have any experience with dogs,” said Katelynn. “A few rules are hard and fast. For example unless you are in a fenced-in area, when you are outside the dog must always be on a leash.”

CCI retains ownership of the puppies and dogs, until retirement. Dogs generally retire from service after seven or eight years and they are then offered back to the puppy raiser family.

Toby will be shipped to Oceanside, Calif., in November and will spend two weeks being tested for health and temperament. “He will be given preliminary tests to see if he is qualified to continue his education. They will want to see if he pulls too much on the leash, if he has anxiety about being alone in a kennel for long periods of time, is very vocal, or has other quirks that would disqualify him from continuing in the program,” said Katelynn. “If the dog is physically sound but his behavioral tendencies are not as reliable, as are needed for Canine Companions, search and rescue organizations, bomb squads or seeing eye dog groups may have a use for him.”

If Toby passes those tests, he will go through two semesters, two months each, of advanced training which consists of more commands and further testing. At that point, candidates who have been selected, after a rigorous application process, to receive a service dog will come together for two weeks of team training with their canine companion. The puppy and his new handler will be known as a graduate team. “My mom and I plan to attend the graduation. When I hand his leash over to the person whom Toby is to assist, Toby will have had all of his advanced training, his team training and passed his tests,” said Katelynn. “Giving him, with his leash, is part of the graduation ceremony. At that point Toby will no longer be ‘my’ dog but will go to work and live with the person who needs assistance or uses Toby in a facility.”

Puppy raisers have to apply and be accepted into the program. Once they have a puppy, monthly progress reports are filled out by the puppy raisers. The two page report asks where the dog went that month, what he is eating and how much, and if there have been any problems. Only an approved puppy raiser, or a person who was in the puppy raiser system in the past, can “puppy sit” a dog in training.

 “I have learned patience in training Toby,” Katelynn said. “Additionally, it really is interesting to see the interaction when Toby is at different places in the community. People who you would never guess have any disability come up to you and say, ‘I have this disease and in five years I will not be able to walk.’ People will open up and talk to you about this. Toby also bridges the gap with really shy individuals. Kids love to come up and talk. CCI is new and different, especially in smaller towns because it is the larger cities where the organization is more well known,” Katelynn said. “It is amazing what a dog can be trained to do if you know how to train him.”

Currently 63 puppies are being raised in Colorado and there are 36 graduate teams in the state. More information can be found at http://www.CanineCompanions.org or http://www.CCI.org. The country is divided into the North Central, Northeast, Northwest, Southeast, and Southwest regions. Colorado has a satellite office for the Southwest region. You can contact the Colorado office at (719) 260-6151 or (303) 462-4646 or administrative assistant Kelly Gorman at KGorman@CCI.org.

Presentations are offered for schools, civic groups and meetings. Check out the link to the presentation page to find out how you can request a program to learn how you might be able to reach out and help others in this “doggone” way.