Received some absolutely incredible… wait… beyond absolutely incredible news just a month ago from a very special place called Canine Companions for Independence. They’ve got a service dog ready for me! So what’s this all about, how did I get a service dog, what the heck can a one of these highly trained helpers do for me, and all that good stuff.
The Application Process
Thinking back, it’s actually quite amazing to think what a lengthy/involved process it is to get one of these beautiful creatures. I started the application process way back in the summer of 2009 when I was living in a very crummy trailer park in Orono with my equally crazy yet awesome friend and caregiver Robyn. I was getting my Masters degree at the University and thinking towards the future, my how much has changed from those days sitting in a dumpy ole trailer until now.
I can remember one day, when Robyn was working a very late shift at the hospital and my backup caregiver flaked out and didn’t show up to feed me supper that I got so hungry I rammed my wheelchair into the refrigerator so that I could open it (landlord, sorry for the big dent!), and grab a hold of the only thing I could reach and took a humongous bite out of it. Mmmmm, butter!
I only mention this, well because it’s so pathetically hilarious when I look back, but also because a service dog could have helped so much.
Back to the Application Process
So I made many phone calls, researched all the different organizations, and applied to 4 of them. Over the past 2 years I’ve received phone calls from all of these organizations. Each of them had their own good points, some could have gotten me a dog within just a few months but they cost thousands and thousands of dollars (like over $10,000), others were cheaper, but I would have had to stay in a hotel for weeks, and then there was Canine Companions for Independence who seemed the most awesome in every right. The people I talked to were so friendly and passionate about their jobs, the dogs, and those they were working so hard to help, they seemed to be the most thorough and complete, and well… they just seemed like they were the best, so I waited the mandatory 1 year and then crossed my fingers for a phone call. October of last year I received that call, but guess what… there was this little thing called a new house being built and well the timing couldn’t have worse. But then this March I received another phone call, for the upcoming May class, and I must say, the timing couldn’t be more PERFECT!
Team Training/Getting the Dog
What’s that mean? I’ll be traveling over 600 miles to Canine Companions for Independence’s Northeast headquarters to train with their staff and incredible dogs for 2 full weeks and then return home with my very own partner in crime. 2 weeks you say… I thought it sounded like an awful long time as well, but after reading through the humongous white binder they sent in the mail it really does look like it’ll take all this time for me to learn what I need, and for the dogs to figure out who they like. That’s right, I won’t be picking the dog, he/she along with some help from the trainers will be picking me!
At the training I’ll be learning all about how to take care of my pooch, advanced canine learning theory, and the 100+ commands that will take my dog from sitting/staying to turning lights on and off, picking up things I dropped, to unloading the washing machine! I’m so, so excited, and what perfect timing. The weather is finally starting to turn, the days are getting longer, the snow is melting, and when I come back home on May 14 I’ll have a new friend to cruise all over town with.
Yup I’m getting a service dog 🙂 SO AWESOME!
Check out this video all about CCI and their dogs/trainers/puppy raisers/volunteers in action. Got to warn you it’s going to melt your heart!