History

Canine Companions service dog with persons hand on their back

The concept of service dogs for people with physical disabilities began with Canine Companions in 1975 in a home office and a garage. In the 45 years since, thanks to the unparalleled generosity and dedication of our supporters, we’ve grown tremendously.

One in four Americans live with a disability and Canine Companions is here to help. As the leader of the service dog industry, we enhance independence for children, adults and veterans with disabilities through expertly trained service dogs. We use cutting-edge research and training programs to ensure the success and quality of our teams.

Canine Companions is the largest provider of service dogs in the world and all follow-up support is provided free of charge to recipients. Demand for our highly trained service dogs is ongoing and growing.

1975 – Canine Companions is founded in Santa Rosa, CA by Bonnie Bergin after seeing the benefit of burros helping people with disabilities abroad. 
1976 – First service dog, Abdul, placed 
1978 – First hearing dog placed 
1981 – Canine Companions moved into first training facility in Santa Rosa, CA 
1986 – Canine Companions is a founding member of Assistance Dogs International 
1987 – North Central and Southwest Regions established 
1988 – Southeast Region established 
1989 – Northeast Region established 
2007 – Canine Companions Veteran Initiative™ begins 
2014 – Canine Companions places first service dogs for veterans with PTSD  
2015 – Canine Early Development Center opened 
2018 – Paige Mazzoni begins as Chief Executive Officer 
2019 – Therapy dog program established