Woodbridge, CT - Danielle Drazen of Woodbridge, CT, volunteers her time to train puppies to become assistance dogs for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). The organization places these highly trained dogs with disabled children, adults and veterans around the country.
On Monday, January 21st, Danielle and her puppy, Sandy, will join fifty-seven other dogs and their handlers from CCI in the Inaugural Parade. These dogs are trained to pull wheelchairs, open and close dogs, and provide comfort to those in challenging circumstances. Volunteers are key to the organization’s success. There are 3,000+ volunteers and another 1,050 puppy raisers nationwide.
Sandy is half Lab and half Golden Retriever. CCI finds that these two breeds make excellent assistant dogs because they are by nature great at retrieving objects for wheelchair users. Danielle received training as a puppy raiser at CCI and has raised three dogs to date. She is also a part-time student at Southern Connecticut State University, where she is studying to be a special education teacher.
“We really need more people to train puppies,” she said. “There is a pressing need for these dogs, which are provided free of charge. Anyone with the time and commitment can learn how to teach a puppy to become an assistance dog.”
Cathy Kangas, CEO and Founder of PRAI Beauty in New Canaan, supports the work of CCI through “Beauty with a Cause,” the philanthropic arm of her company. “Canine Companions for Independence is a great organization. The dogs they provide to disabled individuals change lives. I am particularly proud of the work they do with veterans because soldiers returning home faced with crippling disabilities deserve our support.”
Debra Dougherty, Executive Director for CCI’s Northeast Region said: “It is an honor for our organization to participate in the Inaugural Parade. Our staff, volunteers and dogs will be seen by million. We hope that this will lead to much needed support of our mission to provide assistance dogs to even more disabled people around the country.”