They’re cute, fun to watch, a comfort to hold and a gift of independence for the handicapped. They are Canine Companions for Independence dogs or CCI for short. I recently accompanied my friend Marlene on a photo shoot to capture her friend Jan’s latest CCI puppy litter. Jan, a volunteer breeder, names her litters according to the alphabet. This was litter D, meaning all the dogs names began with “D.” A small litter of one female and three males, these puppies, Labrador and Golden Retriever mixes, were soon to leave Jan’s care and go to their volunteer foster homes where they will be raised and trained to help their soon to be owners.
Canine Companions is a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of adults with physical disabilities, alert the deaf and hard of hearing to important sounds, and help children and adults with cognitive and developmental disabilities. They also train dogs who partner with a facilitator working in a health care, visitation or education setting.
These sweet dogs begin their journey with a breeder who oversees the entire breeding process and works with the puppies once they are born. They check the pups for temperament, ability to be trained, health, and physical attributes. CCI oversees the entire process from breeding to placement.
Faced with the puppies moving on to the volunteers who would raise and train them, Jan asked Marlene to take a picture of Litter D. Easier said than done. After arriving, we played with the pups, got them moving about the yard, and, hopefully, got them a little tired. The goal was to have them sit still in the wagon while Marlene took their picture. It almost worked!
It took four of us to get them settled down and looking at Marlene who patiently manned the camera. Of course, I was shooting the whole scene, being glad I wasn’t in Marlene’s position. My friend showed me that not only is she a good photographer, she has a great deal of patience.
Meet litter D and take a look at Marlene’s finished image.