PORTSMOUTH — On Monday, May 17, the fourth grade at Saint Philomena School welcomed Kippling, a four-month-old puppy from Canine Companions for Independence, to help in his training to become a service dog for someone with a disability.
An important goal for the students is to learn about the service dog training process and who it serves. This program helps the students form a connection to people with disabilities. They will see people with disabilities not as “them,” but as people who may get “their” dog, or one like it, and may be more prone to interact with people with disabilities.
“It's important because you learn to train dogs, you learn about disabilities, and maybe one day you can raise a service dog to help someone,” said 10-year-old Claire Huntingford.
This experience helps both the puppy and the students. Interaction with all types of people, including children, is an important part of Kippling’s training.
“It will give Kippling a bunch of everyday situations to react to so that he will be used to them and know how to behave,” said Delanie Quinn.
The students will gain dog-training techniques that apply to many other situations, like consistency and the power of praise. They will be able to teach others about the importance of service dogs, service dogs in training, and appropriate behavior around them, including greeting the handler before the dog. The students hope to help more people understand what a service dog is, and that they should not try to pass off pet dogs as service dogs.
Hosting this future service dog and working with Canine Companions is good and important for Saint Philomena School because its mission is “to foster the courage and confidence of children to discover, develop and use their God-given gifts and talents to transform the world for good.”
Established in 1975, Canine Companions is the largest non-profit provider of assistance dogs in the United States. Canine Companions provides highly trained service dogs for children, adults and veterans with disabilities free of charge.