SIT, STAY, SPARKLE
October 9, 2021, was the Canine Companions’ Sit. Stay. Sparkle. 2021 Virtual Gala Event
The event involved a Watch Party that featured their clients’ success stories with their canine companions and a silent auction to sponsor the organization.
Founded in 1975, Canine Companions is an amazing organization. They have benefited the lives of hundreds of people. The organization provides excellent service dogs for adults and children with disabilities. Many of the dogs are gifted to veterans with disabilities whose lives depend on them. Additionally, Canine Companions train dogs as facility dogs to assist workers in the healthcare and educational fields. None of the recipients of these gifted dogs have to pay. “Clients come to Canine Companions because of our reputation, the quality of our dogs, the experience of our training staff, and the desire to lead life with greater independence. We are committed to providing services to all qualified clients” (Canine Companions)
The Virtual Gala Event was a huge success for Canine Companions. Thousands were raised for the organization through donations and silent auction proceeds. The items being auctioned off included a week a Spanish Villa, a week in Tuscany, an African Safari, a golf wine package, and a weekend in Sonoma County.
I arrived at the home of former Ms. Wheelchair California 2013, Margarita Elizondo. Together we had the privilege of opening the Virtual Experience Boxes.
Each box contained a delightful array of cheese, crackers, jam, meat, and of course, chocolate, including an amazing bottle of wine from the St. Francis Winery (red or white). St. Francis is a great supporter of Canine Companions. The Winery donates $1 for every bottle of wine purchased.
Margarita and I enjoyed ourselves as we each opened our own box. The crackers were delicious and the meat and cheese went amazing with it. Not to mention Francis’ Wine was a beautiful satisfying end to the meal. Both of us chose the Red Wine. It was fantastic! Canine Companions did an amazing job putting together the Virtual Experience box. I highly recommend their boxes for future events. Not only does it provide a great way to enjoy the event, but each purchase provides support to Canine Companions.
And what are the statistics this organization has to boast? According to their site, they have had 7,020 graduate teams placed since 1975. This year there are currently 309 working dog teams that graduated. Not to mention the 970 puppies that are currently being raised. Puppies! The cuteness overload.
The Sit. Stay. Sparkle. 2021 Virtual Gala Event was amazing that night as it gave viewers the opportunity to listen to the stories from people whose lives have vastly changed with the gift of a service dog. One such example is Aaron and Heddie. Aaron, 7 years old, was matched with Heddie, a beautiful dog. Many of Aaron’s disabilities include cerebral palsy, vision impairment, epilepsy, and developmental delay. Thanks to Canine Companions, Aaron’s life has changed for the better, giving Aaron the opportunity to build a healthy and reliable routine life. “Heddie provides support, motivation and a constant bonding opportunity for Aaron and his big brother Sean” (Canine Companions).
What makes this organization so special to me? It is my dream to have a service dog. As you’ve read from my previous blogs, I have a spinal cord injury. Due to my disability, I have difficulty with many life tasks. Many things people take for granted as easy, such as picking up dropped items like a cellphone or wallet, I have the inability to without assistance for others. There have been many moments where I have had a jacket fall off or dropped my phone and had to wait around for someone to pick it up for me. It can be nerve-wracking traveling around as actively as I do and worrying whether I’ll drop my phone in an area without people around. Or worse, have an earring fall out and not be able to pick it up. The horror! A service dog like Heddie someday will increase the independence of my life. A dog can assist me with prepping for bed, transferring, dressing, and traveling on my own. Those are just the basic commands I know of. Canine Companions teach their dogs over 40 commands. A service dog can open many doors in my life, both physically and metaphorically. No longer will I be alone, but have a partner. Someday.
I interviewed a few others who have had service dogs impact their lives. Here are their answers.
“My service dog is now retired. But she could tug off coat sleeves, mittens, and socks really well. I’m sure she could’ve tugged pant legs; I just didn’t need that help. She also pushed the power assist buttons to open automatic doors. In my office (and apt) I had tug ropes on several doors and cabinets that she could tug open for me.”
“He can carry things, bring whatever I need, flush toilets, load/unload washer, dryer, and dishwasher, operate the TV, turn faucets on/off recycle/throw away trash, open doors, including the fridge and cabinets, where he knows the names of many things. “
“My service dog Ghia from the Mira foundation takes off socks and coats, pushes buttons for doors, barks if I need help, picks up and retrieves objects, and helps me transfer. The transfer assist is that she is trained when I push on her back; instead of sitting down as most dogs do, she braces herself. This allows me to lean on her when I transfer to prevent me from falling forward because I have limited trunk control. Back when I was a manual wheelchair user, she also had a special harness for traction, able to pull me in my chair with voice commands similar to sled dogs.”
How has a service dog helped your life?