Who We Are
Founded in 1975, Canine Companions for Independence® is a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships.
The assistance dogs we breed, raise and train aren’t just the ears, hands and legs of their human partners. They’re also goodwill ambassadors and often, their best friends. They open up new opportunities and new possibilities, and spread incredible joy. We unite people with dogs in a powerful program that leads to greater independence and confidence.
We train four types of assistance dogs
Service dogs assist adults with physical disabilities by performing daily tasks.
“Mork helps me help myself. He can retrieve my phone and other dropped items, pull my wheelchair and open doors for me.”
—Wallis and Service Dog Mork
Hearing dogs alert their partners, who are deaf and hard of hearing, to important sounds.
“Thanks to Hazel, I don’t have to rely on someone to wake me up. I am less dependent on my family now.”
—Karen and Hearing Dog Hazel
Facility dogs work with clients with special needs in a visitation, education, criminal justice or health care setting.
“Sherlock allows many children to surprise themselves into doing things they might never have had the courage to try!”
—Kristen and Facility Dog Sherlock
Skilled companions enhance independence for children and adults with physical, cognitive and developmental disabilities.
“He has really changed my life and I like showing people how he helps me.”
—Carter and Skilled Companion Hollen
From pup to assistance dog
Canine Companions breeds Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and a cross of the two to be assistance dogs. Volunteers care for our breeder dogs and nurture newborn puppies for eight weeks. Canine Companions puppies spend the next 14-18 months with volunteer puppy raisers who provide basic obedience training, socialization and care.
Professional Canine Companions instructors teach the dogs to master over 40 commands in six to nine months. After training is successfully completed, the dogs can go through Team Training and be matched with adults, children or veterans with a disabilities, or professionals assisting clients with special needs. Team Training culminates in a joyful graduation ceremony for graduates beginning a new journey and for puppy raisers witnessing their puppies’ achievements.
Volunteer Puppy Raiser FAQs
Canine Companions for Independence® has been providing assistance dogs to people with disabilities since 1975. You can help us unite people with trained assistance dogs in a powerful program that leads to greater independence. Every assistance dog starts as a puppy that needs a loving home. You can raise a dog and change a life. Volunteer puppy raising is an incredible way to help children and adults with disabilities live more independent lives.
Volunteer puppy raisers provide Canine Companions puppies a safe home, take them to obedience classes, serve up a healthy diet, provide socialization opportunities and give lots of love.