The COVID-19 pandemic has caused commercial airline travel to be unpredictable. Puppies taking the first step towards becoming service dogs for Canine Companions for Independence are relying on the generosity of volunteer pilots with private planes to travel to their temporary training homes. These special puppies have been flying high as they start the journey to becoming a service dog.
Canine Companions for Independence
Canine Companions for Independence is a nonprofit organization that places service dogs with disabled people completely free of charge. Their website says, “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.”
Pilots Bring Puppies to their Temporary Training Homes
In just the few months that we have been experiencing the pandemic, volunteer pilots have flown 108 puppies to southern California, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Montana, and Texas. The puppies are being transferred to temporary homes. “Not only are they giving their plane, but their time, their fuel,” Canine Companions public relations and marketing coordinator Michelle Williams, told Business Insider. “They’re going out for full days … it’s just incredible.”
Families volunteer to help raise and train the puppies from about the age of 8 weeks to about 18 months old. The goal during this time is to socialize the puppies and train them a predetermined set of 30 commands. Afterward, the puppies go back to headquarters to receive their specialized skills training for the line of service they will provide.
The Pilots Love Time in the Air with the Puppies
The pilots are having a blast flying these little cuties across the country. How could they not? Pilot and owner of Sonoma Jet Center Josh Hochberg told Business Insider that he takes his daughters on the puppy flights. The girls play with the puppies for about an hour before the flight begins. This tires out the puppies so they sleep during the whole flight. He said, ““It’s more fulfilling than I could have possibly imagined,” he said. “So fulfilling that I actually got a puppy of my own.” The family brought home an American Brittany name Charlie. He credits his work with Canine Companions entirely.
If you are interested in learning more about supporting Canine Companions for Independence, check out their website.
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