LAKE COUNTY, Calif. – The role of assistance dogs in communities around the world has been the focus of a celebration this week.
International Assistance Dog Week began Sunday, Aug. 5, and ends Saturday, Aug. 11.
Marcie Davis, a paraplegic and author of “Working Like Dogs: The Service Dog Guidebook,” is credited with establishing the annual celebration, created to recognize of all the devoted, hardworking assistance dogs helping individuals mitigate their disability-related limitations.
“Assistance dogs transform the lives of their human partners with debilitating physical and mental disabilities by serving as their companion, helper, aide, best friend and close member of their family,” according to the event’s Web site, www.assistancedogweek.org .
International Assistance Dog Week not only honors the hardworking canines but is meant to increase public awareness about the dogs and those who raise and train them.
Canine Companions for Independence, based in Santa Rosa, is the largest assistance dog organization in the world, and has produced several assistance dogs that came to Lake County, including Nasa and Patch, who have made their homes with John and Katie Eels.
CCI’s most recent graduate to arrive in Lake County is Eddie. He and his handler, Mike Curran, celebrated their graduation from the program on May 18, as Lake County News has reported.
Since graduation, Curran and Eddie have been busy meeting community members and groups, taking part in followup training at CCI, attending training for pet therapy certification in local convalescent facilities, Sutter Lakeside and Hospice Services of Lake County, and participating in a hospice grief camp.
|Mike Curran and Eddie. Courtesy photo.|
In June they participated in a California District Attorney's Association Training, with the Courthouse Dogs Program a topic of training and several CCI other dogs were in attendance.
“Eddie and I also helped with a presentation on Courthouse Dogs to the Napa County District Attorney's Office as they are pursuing a Facility Use Dog for interviewing kids and the elderly,” Curran said.
Curran, who retires Aug. 18 after 33 years with the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, will begin as a volunteer Lake County District Attorney’s Office reserve investigator on Sept. 4. He said Eddie will assist him in interviews being done with children and the elderly at the Children's Interviewing Center. They will work 20 hours a week will be spent at the District Attorney’s Office.
At the end of September, “Reading with Rover” – a special literacy program that encourages children to read to specially trained dogs – will be coming to Lakeport Elementary and starting Oct. 1 it will start at Kelseyville Elementary.
Eddie and Curran will spend 20 hours a week working in local schools in the Reading With Rover program as well as visiting special education and kindergarten classes. Curran said the children will get to help with Eddie's grooming by brushing his coat and his teeth.
Curran and his new partner also will work as ambassadors for CCI, and will do presentations or appearances for any organization that requests them.