Howard Magazine - Page 44 - At your service continued

Howard Magazine
- Page 44
At your service continued
say goodbye? As for the dogs, “Labs and goldens are easygoing and can handle changes like moving,” says Debbie Knatz, puppy program manager of CCI’s Northeast region. Gromit and his peers are sent to six months of professional training and evaluation before being carefully matched with just the right client or agency.

And at the graduation ceremony, when the raiser hands off the leash of the dog to the client and new best friend, “it is incredibly emotional. There isn’t a dry eye in the house,” Bentzinger says.

As for O’Neill, “Parting will be tough. There’ll be a lot of separation anxiety,” she admits. But continued contact between puppy raisers and clients is encouraged. In fact, according to Bentzinger, at least 80% of puppy raisers and clients keep in touch. Some visit and even vacation together — dogs included, of course.

There are few in these parts with as much experience in this canine coming and going as Cindy Patterson of Columbia.

Patterson was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, and in a sort of pay-it-forward, she raised five CCI puppies before requiring the help of one herself. As it turned out, only one of those five reached CCI’s rigorous standards. One refused to climb stairs; another could never overcome his fear of thunder and loud noises.

“They have to be bomb-proof” is how Patterson puts it.

Other reasons for failure can be stubbornness, laziness or aggressiveness. Only half the pups make it through the demanding training program. Others