Women’s club honors organization

SUN PHOTO BY TOM CHANG The Rotonda West Women’s Club donated $2,000 Thursday to Canine Companions for Independence. Pictured are Janet Scire, Linda Gagnon, Rachele Adler, Susan Kirey, Lauren Brown with Lloyd, Claudette Romano, Kathy Bickel, Leigh Anne Novak with Stimson and Cheri Stratton with Murdock.

ROTONDA WEST — The Rotonda West Women’s Club honored Canine Companions for Independence, a service dog organization for the disabled, Thursday with a $2,000 check.

Cape Coral resident Lauren Brown brought her service dog, Lloyd, to the luncheon.

“Lloyd is very attentive,” Brown said. “He’s more focused than my last dog. I got her when I was 11. I’m training him to get waters from the pantry for me. He helps me walk up and down curbs. He also helps stabilize me, much better than my other dog.”

The training for service dogs focuses on the attention to detail and repetitiveness. Cheri Stratton has been training puppies for almost 20 years.    “Our dogs are all bred for the job,” Stratton said. “At 8 weeks old, we get the puppies. We have them until about 18 months. Then they go back to school for six to nine months more. So 40 percent of those dogs who go to school graduate.”

Their original trainers get first chance to adopt those who don’t graduate and if they don’t take them, they get put on a waiting list. New owners can adopt with a $500 donation to the organization.

“(When you sign up), you can be on the waiting list for a long time for that,” she said. “The process is not very hard. You get an application from the organization. It’s pictures of your family and your home. You fill that out and send it in.”

There are five locations for CCI across the U.S., including one in Orlando. The main office is located in Santa Rosa, Calif.

The dogs are Labrador and golden retriever mixes.

“It makes a really good dog,” she said. “Sometimes it takes the hair out of the picture. It adds personality to both dogs and makes a really good and healthy dog.”

Puppy trainers are provided with manuals and a DVD with detailed instructions about specific commands, fixed behaviors and diet.

The puppy raisers are also trained in handling dogs’ natural foraging habits.

“People have dropped french fries all over,” she said. “So we have to make sure that they don’t get whatever’s on the floor. If they do, we go into their mouth and get it back.”

For more information, go to cci.org or call 1-800-572-2275.

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About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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