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  • Writer's pictureJulia Fieldhammer

First Dog, First Blog

A couple of years ago, I went to Puppy Camp (that’s not the official name, but I like to call it that). Well, it wasn’t really a camp…my mom, my sister, and I went to Columbus, Ohio to finally get my service dog. The company we got my dog from is called Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), and in order to get a service dog through them you have to be accepted in order to be on their waitlist to get a dog.

Puppy Camp is a two week event, where everyone that had gotten called, went to CCI’s headquarters in Columbus to get paired with a service dog. During the two weeks you have “classes” where they teach you abut their process, the commands they teach their dogs, and what to do and what not to do when taking over the care of your new dog. You also get hands on experience with the dogs, using the commands and just generally interacting to see which one you work best with. On one of the days of the first week, you are presented with your perfect service dog, so the second week is all about forming the bond between human and dog.

We were on the waitlist 2 years before we got the big call that a dog was waiting for us in Columbus. My oldest sister was going off to her first year of college in the middle of the 2 weeks, so my dad wanted us to wait (you know how dads are, only one thing at a time). Mom wore him down, though, so off we went, 3 hours in the car, so much fun! (Not.)

Unfortunately for us, our hotel was kind of a ratty, old thing. None of us particularly wanted to stay there, especially after the car ride, but we had to suck it up for the night for our first day. The first few days were mostly talking and a little working with the dogs. The third day was the most important day of all; we found out what dog was our forever dog! I got paired up with a dog called Hartmann. Hartmann and Julia.

We were there for a week and a half more of training. The whole group of us and our dogs went on field trips like the Columbus Zoo and the mall, to test how well we could do with our dogs in public. The zoo was very interesting!

Finally, it was graduation day! We got to “graduate” from Puppy Camp with our dogs, and take them home to start a whole new life together. Everyone agrees that Hartmann will forever and always be the cutest face in our family.

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