By ZOYA AHMED
Canine Companion International (CCI), or better known on campus as the CCI Puppy Raisers club is still going strong at the University of Mary Washington this semester.
Most students have seen the puppy walking around campus with yellow and blue vests. That is Farrah, and she is a service dog in training under CCI. Farrah goes to class, attends events and even lives on campus.
CCI is a club where students raise puppies to become service dogs. The puppies are raised for about a year and a half by volunteers and trained to help people with disabilities. The dogs are highly trained and taught to be very obedient. The trainer works closely with the Canine Companions organization to monitor the puppy’s progress and submit monthly reports.
Farrah was an addition to the UMW campus last semester. She is meeting all of the training requirements and has been on campus everyday for classes with her raiser, Abby Hannell.
She is about ten months old, and in the fall she will be going to advanced CCI training. When Farrah leaves for training, there will be a new CCI puppy on campus. The new puppy raiser, Greg Genuardi, has been approved by both CCI and UMW, and he should be getting his puppy over the summer.
“The toughest aspect of our club is raising the funds required to support these dogs,” said Beth Harbower, the president of CCI Puppy Raisers at UMW.
The organization is hard at work searching for new ways that they can raise money for training and taking care of the puppies. CCI sent out grant requests and has tapped into crowd-sourcing opportunities online, such as starting a GoFundMe account.
According to Harbower, they have also held multiple events on campus. Last semester they hosted a Fall Fest, and this past week they sponsored a bake sale. Profits from the sales grossed about $35. CCI said they have another event in the works for the month of April that will hopefully produce more lucrative results.
“CCI wants to let our campus know that we are an official club that is tied into the university,” said Harbower. “We are excited to see new service dogs on campus, but whenever you see the yellow and blue vest on a puppy, that is what a CCI puppy looks like. Our goal is to keep gaining more puppies each year, but that requires more funding for our raisers.”