Monday, February 18, 2013
SAN DIEGO Ten new graduates entered the work force this weekend. They were all dogs from Canine Companions for Independence in Oceanside, and some of them will go to work for returning veterans.
'Canine Companions' enter the workforce to assist injured veterans and others.
The highly trained assistance dogs spent two years learning 50 commands to help disabled people. Canine Companions began its veteran outreach initiative in 2007. Their goal was to help a large number of injured veterans who fought in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
One new graduate (named Waffle) will work with clinical psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Holman at the Denver Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Dogs like Waffle can open doors, turn off lights and get newspapers for the physically disabled. Holman said they can also provide comfort for people with Post Traumatic Stress and for those in pain who need palliative care.
"Veterans are a little bit reluctant. They don’t know what palliative care is or they think that term sounds scary. So one important thing the dog will do is break down barriers and help people feel comfortable talking to us,” said Holman.
Canine Companions are placed free of charge. The organization graduates four classes of trained dogs every year.