Special athletes + special dogs = great day at work
You may need a dog to pull your wheelchair or pick up a needed item from the floor. Or you may want a dog to talk to in the hospital or court room. Or to let you know when the phone is ringing. Or to help you feel safe after tours of combat.
Or, as was the case recently at the national Special Olympics competitions in Seattle, you may just need some puppy love.
I call myself lucky to work at PartnersCreative for many reasons. One of which is the opportunity we get each year to each spend one paid day volunteering for a cause we care about. I’m also lucky to live puppy-nanny-close to family members who are long-time volunteer puppy raisers for Canine Companions for Independence, based in Santa Rosa, California.
Combined, that made it easy for me to help represent Canine Companions at the final day of the Special Olympics and closing ceremonies. I took my PartnersCreative volunteer time and a puppy named Hollis and headed to the University of Washington, main site of the competition. Basing at the booth we volunteers talked about the national service dog organization — the dogs are trained in five general categories of service,* graduates are free to their humans … and volunteer puppy raisers are always wanted nationally.
Athletes, coaches, friends and fans stopped to visit and learn, pick up some pamphlets — and also, most important, to get some puppy love.
And the pups were happy to oblige.
Even some ESPN crew members, near maxed out as they wrapped up a full week of event coverage, were better for a little furball therapy.
And for me personally, it was not only a great dog day but also a great day to get inspired by Special Olympic athletes and their teams. As Special Olympics impacts the athletes, they impact all those they come into contact with … including me. Same idea for service dogs and the impact they make on their people. The fact that where I work promotes — seeks — that outcome from volunteering is pretty awesome.
A good, good day … but have to note that by the end of the bus ride home, Hollis and I were ready for naps.
* Canine Companions graduate dogs serve as full service dogs, skilled companions, facility (hospital, school, court room), hearing and veteran PTSD.