On November 2, PetSmart’s distribution center in Columbus, Ohio welcomed 16 volunteer puppy raisers from Canine Companions for Independence® to assist with several hours of socialization and agility training for puppies working to become service animals.
Canine Companions for Independence® is a non-profit organization that provides service dogs to children, adults, and veterans with disabilities, as well as working professionals across the country.
Distribution center associates looked on as volunteers worked with the puppies to help them adjust to the sounds of a distribution center while maintaining focus and completing specific behaviors based on commands.
The maintenance staff at the distribution center constructed ramps, a teeter-totter, an obstacle weave, a wobble board and a platform for the puppies to use as an agility course. These challenges help the puppies, all less than 18 months old, improve agility and build confidence, two key components of a puppy’s successful progression into the role of service animal.
“The distribution center is such a wonderful environment for the puppies to train in,” said John, a manager at the distribution center. “It’s also great for the associates to see all the puppies in action and get a better understanding of the amazing work that Canine Companions® does.”
After completing their training, the puppies were rewarded with a well-deserved trip outside. Their “working vests” were removed and they got to play in the distribution center’s dog park before heading home.
PetSmart’s partnership with Canine Companions® has continued to grow through on-site visits and various volunteer events throughout each year. “This is the third consecutive year we’ve hosted this event,” said John. “We’ve already set a date for the next one and can’t wait.”