This year, two West Chester University students are helping raise puppies for Canine Partners for Life while living on campus. Last year, two puppies were raised for the organization.
Based in Cochranville, Pa., around 30 minutes from WCU, Canine Partners for Life places service dogs nationwide. Service dogs can help people with physical, cognitive and developmental disabilities. These include, but are not limited to, arthritis, diabetes, epilepsy, chronic back problems, multiple sclerosis, paralysis and Parkinson’s disease.
The vision statement of Canine Partners for Life states, “The lives of those we serve will be forever changed through the opportunities and independence afforded by a steadfast relationship with a service or companion dog.”
Service dogs can help some walk, fetch items for a person, help someone undress or dress, open and close doors, hand money to cashiers, sense seizures, alert someone about low blood sugar for diabetics and more.
“Service dogs give people with disabilities their independence back so they can live a better quality life,” said Tonya Guy, the Associate Director of Marketing and Communications for Canine Partners for Life.
Canine Partners for Life typically has between 50 and 60 puppies being raised by volunteers for 12 to 18 months.
Volunteers make sure the puppy is trained and goes into public environments.
For college students, it can seem intimidating to commit to raising a service dog in training. However, college campuses are actually great places for these future service dogs to get the training they need.
“The puppy has to navigate through large crowds, lay quietly during classes and stay focused with the many different people, sights, smells and sounds that a college campus has,” said Guy.
According to Guy, “it is a very rewarding experience not only for the volunteer puppy raisers, but for all of the other students on campus as well.”
“A puppy can brighten anyone’s day,” said Guy.
If interested volunteers are unable to commit to raising a puppy, they can still volunteer with the organization. They can fill out a volunteer application at www.k94life.org.
Volunteers can come to the organization’s office and walk, bathe or spend time with the dogs. They can also assist in office work.
Donations are always needed, both monetary and from the organization’s Amazon wish list.
“Volunteering for Canine Partners for Life gives the students an opportunity to enhance the life of a person who has a disability,” said Guy. “Whether a student raises a puppy, assists at special events, helps in our office or makes a donation, that person has helped change a life.”
Theresa Kelly is a fourth-year student majoring in English literature secondary education. She can be reached at TK780615@wcupa.edu.