GREAT FALLS — The Big Sky Chapter of Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), an organization devoted to training service dogs that can be gifted to disabled owners, held a "Howl-O-Ween" party on Saturday.
The Halloween-themed event featured dog lovers, families, and service dogs.
CCI Big Sky Chapter President Kim Monroe explained how this national nonprofit is relevant to our local community.
“In Montana, there’s a lot of need for people with service dogs...they can just provide independence to people. They give them a better life,” Monroe said.
These canines can pick up items, alert owners to noises, and open both literal and figurative doors to those with disabilities. “They can help people who have disabilities you know pick up the remote control if they drop it., but more than that, open doors to independence,” Monroe said.
Monroe’s service-dog-in training, Fiji, has just begun learning commands that will allow her to assist her future owner.
“We teach them 30-40 basic commands...They string those commands together [to fit] the person who’s coming in to get them,” Monroe said.
Kim and Fiji are just one of many canine companion teams that serve our country and state.
In addition to puppy trainers, the CCI has many graduate teams, service-dog owner duos who have completed the program’s service training.
Graduate Julie Saylor and her dog Ferral have been a part of CCI since Saylor received the service dog two-and-a-half years ago.
“Having her allows me the feeling of having more confidence because I have trouble hearing, that he’s able to alert me to sounds that I struggle with,” Saylor said.
Ferral alerts Julie to sounds she wouldn’t otherwise be able to hear on her own, like the phone, doorbell, and smoke alarm.
“It’s just a sort of feeling of comfort to know that I have that extra set of ears in the house. I’m just amazed at how intelligent these dogs are and how willing they are to help,” Saylor said.
For dogs like Ferral, disability is no match for canine capability.
To find out about future CCI events or how you can get involved, check out their Facebook page .