National Service Dog Month, celebrated every September, takes place to show appreciation to our four-legged friends who often play a huge role in the lives of human beings. To celebrate, we caught up with some of Canine Companions future service dogs and their puppy raisers at First Baptist Church of Pensacola who kindly offers their space for training sessions.
Bubba, Buccella, Rissie and Gerald gathered with their volunteer puppy raisers and volunteer trainer Beth and demo dog Lucy to practice some basic commands and socialization skills with the crowd favorite being a game of tic-tac-toe.
In teams of two, each puppy and their raiser will walk to a tic-tac-toe square and if they sit within four seconds of arriving at the square, they are rewarded with a treat and get to claim their square with a bean bag. The winning team typically receives bragging rights and maybe an extra treat until next time.
All Canine Companions puppies are on a journey to become service dogs, profoundly impacting the lives of individuals with disabilities. From birth, these puppies are showered with love and care, while being exposed to various stimuli to develop critical social skills.
Volunteer puppy raisers further contribute to their development until they reach 16 months, introducing them to new experiences and other real-life situations. Caring for a Canine Companions puppy is a team effort that sets these future service dogs on the path to success.
These puppies will eventually arrive at one of the six Canine Companions training centers where they undergo six months of professional training, equipping them with over 45 remarkable skills. Following the comprehensive training, a two-week Team Training class solidifies the bond between fully trained dogs and their partners. As the class concludes, a joyous graduation celebration marks the beginning of a lifelong partnership.
It is truly an honor to have four of these pups right here in Pensacola — with two of them (Bubba and Buccella) being puppy influencers for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and Pensacola Ice Flyers. Check out more information and how you can be involved on their website. Big thank you to these pups, puppy raisers, and supporters for changing lives and bringing happiness into the world. We can’t wait to continue to follow your journey, Happy Service Dog Month!