Friday, December 19, 2008

Hope For A New Year

This has been an interesting year for the economy as well as Carolina Canines for Service. We have had our up’s and down’s and everywhere in between. We are so grateful to have some of the most amazing volunteers that dedicate so much of their time to making CCFS what it is today, from the foster puppy parents to the Animal Assisted Therapy teams.

In January, we started, Carolina Canines for Veterans. In 2006-2007, the Ladies Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign of North Carolina selected Carolina Canines as their charitable project. The statewide organizations goal was to raise funds for one service dog to be placed with one deserving veteran. As a result of this project, Carolina Canines questioned how more veterans could receive the benefits of a service, if they wanted one. From this project, Carolina Canines for Veterans was started in January 2008. Carolina Canines for Veterans is a national pilot program that provides wounded warriors with trained service dogs. What makes our program one of a kind is that we train military prisoners to raise and train the service dogs that we provide to veterans with disabilities at no cost to the veterans. This program is unique in the United States. Prisoners get a second chance to help their comrades. Wounded vets get a second chance for an independent lifestyle. The dogs from for this program are all from rescue or shelters and have passed a strict health and temperament evaluation. The dogs are between 9 months to 2 years of age when entering the Carolina Canines for Veterans program. Training is expected to be completed within a 7 to 15 month timeframe due to using older dogs, rather than the 2 to 3 year training time in our civilian program. The service dogs trained in the Carolina Canines for Veterans program will only be provided to veterans.

We have also been able to partner four people with their service dogs. In 2008 alone, we provided 4 service dogs, at a total worth of $152,000. This brings our total amount of services provided to $1,178,000. We are at a point where our clients are retiring their service dogs and coming back to us for a second dog. We are blessed and happy that they have been served so well that they would like another one to assist them with their independence. One placement was done with a young lady named Randall Ford. She was eleven years old when she received her first service dog, Jacob. Jacob was placed with her when she was in 2nd grade and assisted her in daily activities up through her freshman year of college. This year we placed Conway with Ms. Ford to assist her through her college years and many more to come.

2008 was also the Year of the Wedding! One of our amazing foster families, Lori Gurganious, tied the knot with Andy Brinkley on May 24th. They had a beautiful ceremony with all of the service dogs in training in attendance. Also tying the knot was Ed Salau, one of our clients. Ed married Dawn at an elegant ceremony in Greenville, NC. Also making wedding news, our very own President and C.E.O., Rick Hairston and Executive Assistant, Pat Nowak announced their engagement. We wish them all the best of luck and many years of blissful marriage!

As you can see, it’s been a very busy for Carolina Canines for Service. We have been blessed to provide service dogs for those in need, begin an amazing new program to benefit our wounded warriors, and share in the joy of marriage with friends near and dear to our hearts. We can only hope that next year will be as prosperous as 2008!

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