Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), Oceanside, Calif, will hold a graduation ceremony on February 7 to honor its newest class of graduates with physical and developmental disabilities as they formally receive their new assistance dogs. 

The national non-profit organization enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships. All CCI assistance dogs, training, and support services are provided for free.

The graduation ceremony will be held at the historic Mission San Luis Rey Parish’s Serra Center, 4070 Mission Ave, just off Highway 76 in Oceanside, at noon. It is the culmination of an intensive 2-week team-training course completed by these new human/canine teams at the CCI Southwest Regional Training Center. The event is open to the public and admission is free.

Graduating dogs have been in training for more than 2 years and know up to 50 different commands, such as opening doors, turning lights on and off, and retrieving dropped objects. 

The ceremony will also feature volunteer puppy raisers turning in their CCI puppies that they have been raising for the past 14 to 16 months.  The puppies will return to CCI to embark on 6 to 9 months of advanced training with professional CCI instructors in the hopes that they will one day become an assistance dog for someone in need.

Established in 1975, CCI now has five regional training centers across the country, and is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and the quality and longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people. For more information, visit the Web site or call (800) 572-2275.