Canine Companions For Independence: The Ultimate ‘Service With A Smile’


Wet noses and golden, sun-kissed hair? No, it’s not a makeover.

Instead, it can only mean Beignet and Phoenix from Canine Companions for Independence are in the studio!  In this interview, CCI trainers Angela Jackson-Brunning and Mindy Heard share their experience as puppy raisers and the rewards this service provides for people every day.

“We provide assistance dogs to people with physical and cognitive disabilities—anything other than blindness—and we provide these dogs for free,” said Mindy Heard, certified CCI puppy raiser for Phoenix. “It’s an amazing organization.”

These dogs routinely help people with doors, taking food out of the refrigerator, picking up dropped items, getting dressed, maneuvering clothing zippers, soothing anxiety, walking in public places, among other tasks. “It takes a lot of training,” said Angela Jackson-Brunning, the CCI-certified puppy raiser for Beignet. “They are almost three years old by the time they graduate.”

Brunning explained that these dogs remain with the certified puppy raiser for about two years. During that time, they learn about 30 different commands before moving to professional training that lasts around six to nine months. “That’s where they learn to build on the commands we’ve taught them,” said Brunning.

Don’t miss this endearing and inspiring interview!

For more information on using CCI services or becoming a puppy raiser, please visit for details and application information.

A version of this article was published by Good Day Orange County. It has been republished here with permission.


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