Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), Santa Rosa, Calif plans a graduation ceremony this week honoring its newest class of graduates with physical and developmental disabilities as they formally receive their new assistance dogs.

The ceremony is the culmination of an intensive 2-week course completed by the human-canine teams at CCIs Southwest Regional Training Center in Oceanside. The nationwide, nonprofit organization enhances the lives of those with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support—and the canines, training, and support services are free.

The ceremony will be held at noon on August 23 at the historic Mission San Luis Rey Parish’s Serra Center, 4070 Mission Ave, in Oceanside. The event is open to the public and admission is free.

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

At the ceremony, volunteer puppy raisers will turn in CCI puppies 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.

CCI, which provides assistance dogs to children and adults with disabilities, operates five regional training centers nationwide. For more information, visit the group’s Web site or call (800) 572-2275.

Pictured is Satine, delivering dropped keys to graduate-team member Lance Weir.