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Read Across America with Service Puppies in Training

Lafayatte 3Students at Lafayette School in Grades K-5 received a special treat recently as they observed Read Across America 2016 with various pet-themed activities.  On Wednesday, March 2, the students tipped their hats to Dr. Seuss and celebrated his newly discovered book, What Pet Should I Get?  Volunteers and trainers from Canine Partners for Life (CPL)** visited the school and brought along six service puppies-in-training for this school-wide education event.

No, these service dogs-to-be are not pets, but working dogs trained to assist people with mobility issues and / or medical conditions such as cardiac issues, diabetes or seizures. Lafayette students learned the difference between a pet and a service dog and learned about the 2-year training process service dogs go through for certification through Canine Partners for Life. The puppies performed several skills for the various age groups, and students got to interact with the puppies too.

A unique aspect of CPL’s puppy training is the prison puppy program. CPL works with 10 state correctional facilities in Pennsylvania and Maryland. In the prison puppy program, approved inmates live, work and train puppies from 8 weeks to 14 months of age. These inmate handlers provide crucial socialization and basic obedience training. In addition, correctional facility staff attest to the positive outcomes of having puppies in the prison facility – a calmer atmosphere, positive attitudes, more compassion and empathy.

Correctional staff and volunteers from SCI-Greene and SCI-Somerset were on-hand at Lafayette Elementary to present information about the CPL program and help students interact with the puppies-in-training. The students were totally engaged with the staff and volunteers, asking insightful questions about the puppies’ training and care. Several students asked how they could train their own dogs to do the skills presented!

CPL’s puppies-in-training visit was just one of many programs Lafayette Elementary implemented to encourage students to dive into reading during Read Across America week. To find out more about Lafayette Elementary and its academic programs, visit www.uasdraiders.org.

**Canine Partners for Life’s mission is to increase the independence and quality of life of individuals with physical, developmental and cognitive disabilities. CPL has been training and sustaining professional service dogs and their human partners for over 26 years, and is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization accredited through Assistance Dogs International. To find out more about CPL’s work, please visit www.k94life.org.

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Top Picture:

Pictured from left to right is Pastor Jim Engel, CPL volunteer; Tina Staley, SCI Greene Staff with service dog, Rene; Ellen Boros, CPL volunteer; Jamie Reader, SCI Greene Staff with service dog, Lucee; Kayla Shaner, SCI Greene Staff with service dog, Jett; Sue Fleming, CPL volunteer with service dog, Dusty; Erica Seaver-Engel, CPL Prison Puppy Liaison; Kathy Bell, CPL Prison Puppy Liaison with service dog, Flower; and Connie Hart, CPL volunteer with service dog, Bingo.


Bottom Picture:

Canine Partners for Life Prison Puppy Liaison, Erica Seaver-Engel talks to Lafayette Kindergarten students about how service dogs are trained and what they do to assist people with disabilities.

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