Volunteer puppy raisers raise and train our puppies until the dogs are approximately 18 months old and are ready for the next step in the journey to full service dogs. The puppy lives with the volunteer during this time, learning manners and basic commands. As a future service dog, the puppy is also allowed to go anywhere with the puppy raiser as a service dog-in-training, providing the puppy with learning opportunities in a variety of social contexts. Puppy and volunteer attend weekly obedience classes with our trainers who provide guidance on caring for the dog and teaching basic behaviors. Puppy raisers are responsible for the costs of raising the puppy, including food, toys, crates and veterinary care. However, because CaPR is a non-profit organization, these expenses are tax deductible. We also have a community of puppy sitters who care for young puppies whenever the volunteer leaves town or needs a break. We never place puppies in kennels or use commercial boarding facilities.
We have a 100 percent volunteer retention rate and a list of individuals who want to become volunteers. In 2019, on average, a single CaPR puppy raiser volunteered over 1,308 hours of labor, the equivalent of $33,599. Our dog training classes are open to the public to observe and we often host scout troops and elementary kids to allow them to participate in classes with our puppies. Our puppies are raised by teachers and professionals, so they go to work every day and act as ambassadors.
Volunteer puppy raisers raise and train our puppies until the dogs are approximately 18 months old and are ready for the next step in the journey to full service dogs. The puppy lives with the volunteer during this time, learning manners and basic commands. As a future service dog, the puppy is also allowed to go anywhere with the puppy raiser as a service dog-in-training, providing the puppy with learning opportunities in a variety of social contexts.
Experienced dog handlers (advanced trainers) take on the job of training dogs that have completed the 18 month puppy raising program. The advanced trainers are responsible for teaching advanced service dog skills and preparing the dogs to be paired with a Colorado partner. All partners are carefully screened to identify their needs, determine whether they would benefit from a service dog, and to select the dog that would be the best match.
CaPR currently supports 41 active assistance dog teams throughout Colorado and pre-screened and/or accepted applications from 298 Coloradans requesting assistance dogs in 2019. CaPR currently has 15 puppies in training and 6 dogs in advanced training for partnership placement in 2020.
CaPR has successfully partnered 63 service and facility intervention dog teams in Colorado since 2004. Any dogs released from the service dog program are considered for a change to another working career. Career-changed dogs have become therapy dogs, avalanche rescue dogs and drug detection dogs. Eight service and facility intervention dogs were trained with partners in 2019. As of January 2020, six dogs were in advanced training, where they learn the special skills for their specific service dog careers. At least four more dogs are projected to begin advanced training during the summer of 2020.
People who have applied and been accepted as assistance dog candidates are individually matched with a dog and trained in one-on-one sessions with a qualified advanced trainer to become the dog's handler and life partner.
Surveys are sent to all active partnerships on a recurring basis.
Responders range from those who have been with their dogs for less than 12 months to those whose partnerships have extended for several years. Clients are asked about their experiences since getting a Canine Partners' dog:
- 100% report feeling better emotionally
- 100% report that they are less dependent on others
- 83% leave home more often
- 66% increase their level of physical activity
- 50% feel physically better and pursue new activities as a result of the partnership
Children ages 5 to 21
Canine Partners of the Rockies (CaPR) visits service organizations, clubs, schools, churches and businesses to talk about assistance dogs, their work and the process of raising, training and placing dogs. We do not charge for our presentations, but accept honorariums if offered. Our visits with children are tailored to their age level and include interaction with a demonstration dog.
In 2013, family and friends of an Coloradan with a disability who loved dogs established the Shelldikay Fund to honor her and to help pay for extraordinary veterinary services for service dogs whose human partners cannot afford to pay for them. The Fund also helps CaPR volunteer puppy raisers cover unexpected veterinary costs associated with raising service dogs. It is noteworthy that of the many canine-related causes the family could choose, they chose CaPR.
Our community outreach program "Canine Ambassadors," which is staffed entirely by volunteers, provided service dog demonstrations to over 9,370 individuals.