Canine Companions for Independence
Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) is a US-based 501(c)(3) (non-profit) organization that trains and provides assistance dogs. As of May 2014, it had sponsored and trained about 4,400 dogs.
CCI was founded in Santa Rosa, California in July 1975 by Bonnie Bergin as the first program of its kind. While teaching in Asia, she had seen burros being used by disabled people and thought that dogs could serve a similar role in the US. Since then, it has grown to a national organization with five regions.
The organization pairs people with disabilities (other than blindness) with highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support at no cost to the recipient. All expenses of the dogs (breeding, raising, and training), are paid for by private donations from separate foundations, corporations, or individuals, as well as fundraising projects. The Lions Club Project for Canine Companions for Independence (LPCCI), which was founded in 1983 as a significant provider of financial and volunteer support to CCI, has donated a total of $2 million. In 2015, CCI partnered with Henry Schein Aniimal Health, a provider of animal health products to veterinarians, which provides puppy raisers with free health care products.
CCI trains four types of dogs- service dogs (primarily mobility assistance), skilled companions trained to work with an adult or child with a disability under the guidance of a facilitator, hearing dogs for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, and dogs for "facility teams." Facility teams are made up of a dog and partner, who is usually a rehabilitation specialist, educator, or caretaker. Primarily, these dogs exist as specialized therapy dogs, and help out in the mental, physical and emotional difficulties experienced by a person with disabilities. These dogs also carry most of the skills of service dogs as well as specialized skills for whatever type of facility the dog will be working in.
Breeding and raising
The six- to nine-month advanced training, which costs up to $45,000 per dog, begins when the dog is returned by the volunteer puppy raisers. The first three months of training reviews what the dogs have learned. The second three months concludes with the dogs learning the commands for their final job, such as opening doors and switching on lights. The dogs are also put in real-life situations to determine if they have the temperament to function well in actual situations.
For final training, the individuals receiving the dogs travel to the regional center that serves their state for a two-week class that teaches the recipients about their new partners. This includes learning about dog psychology, dog grooming and care as well as the commands that the dogs know. Matching the dogs with the person is done carefully to make sure their activity levels and personalities match. At the conclusion, the individuals go through testing and then participate in a graduation ceremony. 
Six weeks after finishing the training, teams return for follow-up. CCI dog users may also periodically return for reunions or extra follow-up training at any time.
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- 2006, Lions Project for Canine Companions for Independence, http://www.lpcci.com/
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- CCI's breeding program http://www.caninecompanions.org/national/breeding.html
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- Puppy-raising for CCI http://www.caninecompanions.org/national/puppy_raising.html
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- CCI training http://www.caninecompanions.org/national/training.html
- About follow-up training at CCI http://www.caninecompanions.org/national/follow_up.html