Jacob and Krystal D’Amico, puppy trainers for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), brought their dogs Patience and Lady to St. Joseph Immaculate Heart of Mary’s fifth-grade class as part of SJIHM’s day of service. CCI is a non-profit organization that trains assistance dogs for individuals with disabilities.
The D’Amicos are foster parents of Patience, a puppy in training for CCI. Approximately only 1/3 of puppies in training become a companion dog. Lady is now a therapy dog with Akron Children’s Hospital Doggie Brigade. She had a “career change,” as she was not chosen to be a companion dog.
In addition to Patience and Lady, CCI trained skilled companion dog Waylon visited the classroom. Waylon showed the students some of his skills – opening and closing doors, picking up a pencil and giving the pencil on command, and the command “lap.” “Lap” tells the dogs to put front paws and head in a person’s lap to be petted. Lady and Patience joined in on the “lap” command, allowing all students to have a turn.
Fifth-grade students learned how dogs are trained to help people, what it takes to become an assistance dog, how to behave around a “working” dog, visited with Lady, Patience and Waylon, and had a lot of questions. CCI dogs are trained to have a “gentle mouth.” During training they have relay races with other dogs during which each dog carries a raw egg in their mouth.
CCI trains dogs as service dogs, hearing dogs, skilled companion dogs and facility dogs. These dogs can help individuals with tasks such as turning on lights to getting cash from an ATM. They provide an individual with constant companionship. As CCI says, “Help is a four-legged word.”
Continuing their day of service, the SJIHM fifth-grade collected various items for dogs: dog treats, toys, dog food, Q-tips, paper towels, dryer sheets and liquid soaps. They presented these items to the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County.
For more information about CCI, visit cci.org. For more information about SJIHM, visit sjihmaustinown.org.