Sunday, November 29, 2009
On November 8th I was invited to Canine Companions for Independence to be matched with a service dog. It is a very long and detailed application and definitely worth it. I went to the abilities Expo in Santa Clara a couple of times and CCI had a booth, when I went to ask them about getting on the list it was several years long and as I recall they were not even taking names anymore at the time. I went online and found a private trainer. They trained the dog within e-collar and although I HATED correcting her with it it did not work anyway, by the time I got my hand on the button to correct her it was too late... I quit using the e-caller. She was about four years older than I was told and she had a lot of health problems so she just became my spoiled aggressive pet. I love her very much and lost her to bone cancer in January 2009. One afternoon I was going out to lunch with my mom, brother and his kids and a restaurant that we were going to eat at denied us entry because of my service dog. Usually I would try to stand up to the guy so that next time it won’t be so hard on another person with a service dog but since I had my family and we were hungry we went across the street to Chili’s. While we were standing in line waiting we started talking to a couple of ladies at as it turned out one or both of them belong to the Lions Club. Jan said that she would like to help me out with getting a service dog. I thanked her and said goodbye and really didn’t think that I would hear from her again, within a week I had an application for CCI. I filled out the application and within a year or two I had an appointment to the CCI campus to be matched with a service dog. The process involves filling out a very detailed application about me, my needs, where I live... after the application there is a telephone interview, a personal interview, a tour of the CCI campus and the final interview. I was extremely nervous about staying on the CCI campus for two weeks, I have really never been away from my house for longer than a weekend. I made list after list and check them several times and finally I was packed and ready to go. I had two of my caregivers picked out to go with me, one the first week and another the second week. Check-in at CCI was 5:00 PM and I didn’t want to be late so of course I was there at about 2 PM so we drove around town to see what was there. The rooms were very nice. There was three beds, a huge closet and our own very accessible bathroom. They supplied all the medical equipment that we needed, hospital bed, hoyer lift, shower chair or bench... The first night that we were there we met the caretaker and he assured us that if we need anything else all we had to do was ask him, he was true to his word and a very sweet man. I wasn’t used to the schedule but I really liked it. We had to be in the training room by 9 AM and there was usually lectures, demonstrations and hands-on experience and we were usually out of there by 4 PM. The volunteers came in and made us an excellent lunch every day at noon, these people are awesome. I started to get to know the other people in the dorm and everybody was so sweet and willing to help and just really an awesome group of people, they all became just like family. Because the trainers already knew the personalities and the capabilities of the dogs we were pre-match with a dog in three days and were responsible for taking the dogs back to the dorm and taking care of them. The dogs were already trained and we were there so that they could train us. Of course every match was perfect and these dogs are impeccably trained. Of course the two weeks flew by and before I knew it it was time to for graduation, it was an awesome experience and I’m sad to know that I was leaving my new family and going back home. We got to meet the family that raised our puppies and they were all such loving people and so proud. One of the team trainers was a war veteran wounded in Iraq. We all got a motorcycle escort from the campus to where we graduated, that was so awesome and I know it made me feel very special. it was so cool the way they were so synchronized stopping traffic and escorting us.