How Naming a Puppy Can Help Save a Life

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August 3rd – 9th marks International Assistance Dogs Week. In honor of the important work that assistance dogs do, I thought I would share with you something personal.

If you are a client, you may already know that I am a big supporter of Can Do Canines, a local non-profit that trains and places assistance dogs with people with disabilities. Every year I make a financial contribution on behalf of clients in lieu of a more traditional holiday gift like a giant, 5-gallon tin of popcorn or a cheesy wall calendar with my name and logo plastered all over it.


On a few occasions, this annual contribution has taken the form of Can Do Canines’ Name-A-Puppy program where in exchange for a financial donation you have the opportunity to name a puppy.

The Name-A-Puppy program provides a direct connection to Can Do Canines and the people they serve. When you name a puppy, you get to follow that puppy’s development into a professional assistance dog, attend the graduation event, and witness “your” dog being paired up with his human partner.

Avery. Lilly. Summer.

So far, my family and I have named three puppies that will go on to serve a human partner in the future. The first dog we named, Avery, was a chocolate lab that serves as the mobility assistance dog for a young man from Cottage Grove named Mark.

Mobility assist dogs serve their human partners by helping them perform various tasks that many of us take for granted such as picking things up, opening doors and providing balance. Some of them even help with the laundry! Now that’s service.

In Mark’s case, Avery also helps Mark make friends, perform certain tasks such as retrieving dropped items, and provides him with the means to a more independent lifestyle. You can read more about their story here.

Lilly, our second named puppy, was named by my daughters after their great-grandfather’s dog, Lilly. She is an 18-month-old smooth-coat collie that is currently in final training to be placed with her human partner in the near future.

To get an idea of what it takes to become an assistance dog, check out this short, but adorable video:

Our most recent puppy, Summer, was born July 3rd. We expect big things from her as well. Can Do Canines breeds many of their assistance dogs. It takes about 22 months and $25,000 to go full cycle from puppy to fully trained assistance dog. By breeding their own puppies Can Do Canines has more control over how the animal is socialized, raised and cared for right from the beginning, and it increases the likelihood that they will make it through the program successfully. We look forward to keeping up with Summer’s progress over the next two years.

In the photo at the bottom, Summer is in there somewhere. She’s the cute one.

Name a puppy. Save a life.

A few years back I attended a tour at Can Do Canines facilities. The tour included a short presentation by the human partner in the assistance dog-human relationship. In this case, her name was Rita. Rita wrapped up her presentation with the following comment. “When you support Can Do Canines, whether as a volunteer, a puppy raiser or a financial supporter, ‘you save lives’.”

That’s really what naming a puppy is all about. It’s one thing to make a financial contribution to a charitable organization. It’s quite another to actually see the life changing difference your contribution helped make for a specific individual like Mark or Rita. For them and many others, their assistance dog is a literal life saver.

It takes 22 months and nearly $25,000 to raise and train an assistance dog. At Can Do Canines, assistance dogs are provided free of charge to their human partners.
The name-a-puppy program helps provide money to make that happen. 100% of your gift goes directly to the organization, and helps pay for many of the expenses associated with raising and training a service dog.

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‘S’ litter. Born July 3rd.

More information

Can Do Canines. To learn more about Can Do Canines and their work, visit the Can Do Canines website.

Or better yet, attend a tour during International Assistance Dog Week on August 9th. Tours take one hour, they don’t ask for money, and are a great way to learn more about Can Do Canines and the work they do.

If you would like to know more about assistance dogs in general, visit the International Assistance Dog Week website.

Name-A-Puppy. To learn more about how you or your organization can help name a puppy, contact Janet Cobus, Can Do Canine’s Development Director, at 763-331-3000, extension 153.

Charitable Giving. If you would like to know more about how to included a planned charitable gift in your estate or retirement plan, just Ask Mike.

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