Canine Partners for Life (CPL)
Canine Partners for Life (CPL) trains and places certified service dogs with persons who have physical disabilities, mobility impairments, and seizure and cardiac disorders, to increase their independence and quality of life. By assisting its human partner with many physical tasks and providing constant companionship, a service dog can make the miracle of greater independence possible. CPL provides professionally trained service dogs and lifetime support services. Each dog is trained to meet the specific needs of each individual recipient. CPL places full service dogs with persons 12 years and older.
For many adult recipients, once paired with a service dog, they are able to enter, remain in, or return to the workforce. Our dogs allow children to enjoy a more integrated school experience. Many of our recipients stay healthier longer or may not need a wheelchair or other aid as early, thanks to the help of their dogs. Since its founding in 1989, CPL has placed over 600 canine partners with individuals who have disabilities or are in other situations of need.
There are several types of dogs that CPL trains; the most common is a full service dog that is placed with persons with mobility impairments. These dogs provide physical stability, open doors, turn light switches on and off, help their person get dressed and undressed, retrieve telephones, turn the person in bed to prevent bed sores, help them transfer from a bed to a wheelchair, and act as arms and legs to individuals using wheelchairs. We serve persons with multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, muscular dystrophy, Parkinson's disease, stroke, spinal cord injuries, arthritis, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) and many more. CPL is one of only a few organizations in the world that trains and places seizure, cardiac, and diabetes alert dogs. These dogs warn their recipients of oncoming seizure, cardiac, or diabetic activity, giving anywhere from a ten to sixty minute warning, depending on the particular dog. The dogs are extremely accurate and reliable in their work and enable their human partner to take precautions prior to the onset of a seizure, cardiac or diabetic event, thereby avoiding injuries from a fall or to avoid potentially life-threatening conditions. In addition to providing the alerts to an impending episode, alert dogs can also provide balance and stability to their partners following the incident, can retrieve the telephone or operate a medic line, and assist with many other tasks needed. CPL also places home companion dogs with children with disabilities such as autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, global developmental delays, etc. Home companion dogs are also placed with elderly persons. Similar to home companion dogs, residential companion dogs are placed within residential facilities such as retirement communities in CPL's local area to provide constant pet therapy. Courthouse companion dogs provide comfort to children who are being interviewed or testifying in an anxiety-producing court system.
CPL service dogs are in training for two years. Their first year is spent in a volunteer "puppy home" where they are taught basic obedience and socialization skills. The volunteer puppy raiser may be a member of the community or an inmate at one of our area correctional institutions who participate in our Prison Puppy Raising Program. Community puppy raisers and participants in the prison program attend training classes two times per month to learn and reinforce proper skill development in their pups. For many of the prisoners it's a win-win situation in that they also learn patience, discipline, responsibility, and teamwork-important skills in everyday life, and they also have the opportunity to "give back" to society.
At fourteen months of age the pups, now young adults, move to the CPL kennel to begin their second year of formal training with staff trainers to learn skills as described above. The last stage of each dog's training is three weeks of "team training" with their human partners. Together they learn obedience, canine health care, their legal rights, and take frequent field trips (zoo, mall, movie theater and similar places) to learn to work together in public. Thousands of people each year are oriented to the services provided by Canine Partners for Life, through demonstrations of service dog skills, exhibits and educational presentations.
Audiences range from individuals with disabilities to school age students to senior citizen groups to state and federal employees to health care practitioners and more. CPL is a fully-accredited, voting member of Assistance Dogs International (ADI). During its five-year accreditation survey, CPL was cited for seven "best practices," areas in which CPL is held up as a standard bearer within the international assistance dog industry.