Category Archives: Dog Events

Why I support Canine Companions for Independence & Puppies Behind Bars

Dogs love to work—especially if they share a job with their owners.  They couldn’t be happier following you around all day while doing your daily tasks, and most dogs love to learn.  Although dog assistance programs now abound, I have chosen to support these two programs.

On Sunday, August 7th, my youngest cocker, Buffy, and I will be attending DogFest in Oakbrook, Illinois, a CCI fundraising event.  Please help sponsor us at my page at DogFest

Canine Companions for Independence (CCI)  Canine Companions for Independence logo

CCI trains dogs to help handicapped people with physical, cognitive, and developmental disorders as well as the hearing impaired.  These trained dogs are provided free of charge, which is one is one reason I’ve been a monthly supporter for a number of years.

CCI recruits volunteers as puppy raisers—which I’ve always wanted to do—someday.   The pups get to go everywhere, so they get used to all kinds of situations, and taught basic obedience training.  At about the age of 1 ½, they go into formal training and leave your home (this is the hard part). During advanced training they learn how to open doors and refrigerators, guide owners through traffic, turn on lights, pick up items, etc., then they are paired with someone in need.  These dogs learn about fifty commands!  The costs are substantial to breed, raise and train these special dogs, most of whom are Labrador or golden retrievers.  The dogs are valued at $50K each!

Sometimes the puppy raiser and the receiving person stay in contact, and once the dog becomes too old for its job, he may be retired to his puppy raiser.

My husband thinks I could never give up the dog after becoming attached to it, and going through the craziness of adolescence.  But I think for this cause I could–especially if I could still see the dog sometimes and possibly get him back in retirement.

Puppies Behind Bars    Puppies Behind Bars logo

The other program that we support on a monthly basis is Puppies Behind Bars, which uses prisoners to train dogs for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, handicapped people, and  seniors, as well as sniffing out bombs and other tasks.  This excellent video explains their program much better than I can ( ).

One prisoner said he felt human again.  The dogs help break down the walls of isolation prisoners feel while incarcerated.  Many commented that training dogs to assist those in need is a way of paying back their debt to society for the crimes they committed.

CCI also has a prison program and they have noted that dogs trained by prisoners have a much higher success rate compared to outside programs.  Prisoners spend more time training and are very motivated.

The Puppies Behind Bars program is highly rated for its fiscal responsibility – a four star charity for nine consecutive years as rated by Charity Navigator.


As a dog lover and supporter, it makes sense to help people in need with highly trained dogs.  Please help support CCI by visiting my DogFest page, or by visiting the CCI website, or Puppies Behind Bars.

Dogs in Weddings

Thirty years after your wedding day, what will you remember; the beautiful flowers, the precious words spoken, the pretty dresses, or your dog at the ceremony?

I remember my dog at my reception (although it’s only been 22 years). I eloped and had a large party at my house, so my springer spaniel, Kaylee, joined in the fun. What I remember most is Kaylee jumping at my swinging dress while I danced a polka, my coworkers trying to get her drunk, and at the end of the night, she jumped onto the couch and stuck her head in a bowl of potato chips, forcing me and my husband to clean up before going to bed.

My niece, Lisa, followed suite in a grand fashion, by having her dog, Maisy, as the Dog of Honor, and her husband’s dog, Cooper, as the Ring Bearer. They included them in every step, from the Save the Date cards through the wedding ceremony.

However, things didn’t go as quite as planned. Maisy is more sensitive than Cooper as they tolerated the steam train ride up the mountain at Roaring Camp Railroad, near Santa Cruz, California , to the wedding ceremony within a redwood fairy ring. But once the ceremony began, Maisy started whining and wouldn’t stop, no matter what my sister, as Mother of the Bride, tried. Finally Maisy was led away to avoid disturbing the taking of the vows, although I could still hear her in the distance.

Maisy walking up the isle with her corsage.

Maisy walking up the isle with her corsage.

I don’t think the officiant asked if anyone in the audience protested this marriage, but if he had, Maisy might have whined. Would she have been protesting, or just nervous? She really likes her new daddy Chris, and brother Cooper.

The dogs made many of the wedding photos with Cooper wearing a black Ring Bearer jacket, and Maisy wearing a corsage (is it called a corsage on a dog’s collar?). Unfortunately, they couldn’t attend the reception. Instead Maisy and Cooper caught up on their beauty sleep in their crates and restored their energy for the honeymoon.

Apparently, it’s not unusual to include dogs in the wedding party, as mentioned in the summer issue of Modern Dog Magazine

Cooper in his ring bearer suit.

Cooper in his ring bearer suit.

Of course dogs in the wedding party may only work at outdoor weddings, or selected venues.

  • Plan for every mishap.
  • Bring a treat pouch full of their favorites. A dog can’t whine or bark while munching on her favorite liver treats!