Last Friday, Bay Area interior designers walked their fashionable four-legged friends down the runway to benefit Canine Companions for Independence. It was fun-filled evening complete with butt sniffing, peeing, slobbering, and diva bitches posturing for the best in show title.
The show ranged from a Papillion donning a damask and toile ball gown to a Dachshund wearing an Elizabethan collar inspired by The Hunter Douglas Duette.
At the risk of sounding anthropomorphic, it seemed as if these dogs knew they were stars as they strutted down the runway while photographers snapped their photos. The dogs pranced, spun for the judges, and a few of the social butterflies adorably stopped to kiss the extended hands of the judges. Hey, if Andrew Firestone would have reached his hand out to me, I'd probaly kiss it too--well, probably shaking his hand be more appropriate.
Although there are many great organizations that train service and assistance dogs, Canine Companions is the largest assistance dog organization in the world. CCI has their own breeding program consisting of Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers as well as mixes of the two.
The dogs undergo more than two years of training and are given free of charge to people with physical and cognitive disabilities as well to the hearing impaired and families with autistic children.
CCI has also recently added a wonderful and much needed program that trains service dogs for disabled veterans. Read stories of veterans with Canine Companions assistance dogs.
Thirteen years ago Canine Companions expanded its training program to include a prison puppy raising program which now includes 12 facilities throughout the United States. The program which pairs puppies with prisoner handlers teaches prisoners important life skills such as responsibility, discipline and commitment.
What service dogs do for their owners is so much more than opening doors and turning on lights. These dogs can help with the depression, aid in lowering blood pressure and reducing pain, but its their unconditional love that makes these dogs true heroes for so many.