Four assistance dogs and their new human partners graduated this morning from an intensive training program with the non-profit Canine Companions for Independence.
The ceremony took place at Baylor Medical Center at Irving following an announcement of a new collaboration between Baylor Scott & White Health and Canine Companions, the largest non-profit provider of assistance dogs.
The new pairs were featured in a story in today’s Dallas Morning News, which focused largely on the bond between Brian Boone, a 39-year-old soldier who lost his lower left leg while serving in Afghanistan, and Brindle, a 2-year-old Labrador-golden retriever mix.
The News notes that Boone “was joined by Stacey Odom, 45, a special education teacher; Melanie Knecht, 24, a music therapy intern; and Mackenzie Dunckelman, 13.”
From The News piece:
Brindle and Boone are one of four teams united through a partnership between Canine Companions for Independence and Baylor Scott and White Health in Irving. They believe it’s the first partnership between a service dog organization and a health care system in the U.S., says Corey Hudson, CEO of Canine Companions.
It costs $50,000 to train each service dog. Canine Companions, based in Santa Rosa, Calif., typically provides the service free of charge. In the new partnership, Baylor Scott and White Health finds patients who could benefit from having a service dog, covers the cost of training the dogs and their owners, and supports them once they are home.
There’s a need for service dogs among their patients, says Joel Allison, CEO of Baylor Scott and White Health. “It ties in to our mission,” he says. “We think of it as part of our commitment to serve and meet the needs of all the patients that we serve.”