Canine Companions

August 28, 2020

It’s a dog’s life for Megan Koester. The mother of twin sons owns a pet but she also works with them.

Koester has worked for six years as Canine Companions For Independence (CCI) north central region executive director. She said she has witnessed a lot of growth in the region, which spans 14 states and includes Western Pennsylvania.

“It is so amazing to see how quickly dogs and people bond together,” Koester said. “To watch the work they do is magnificent.

“It’s magical,” she added, “to see individuals for the first time feeling comfortable.”

Koester said the goal is for people to be able to go out in the community by themselves without a caregiver or to watch a community interact more frequently with somebody with a disability.

“It’s incredible to see how many different ways these dogs help adults, children or vets do what they want to daily but independently and at the same time be in a place where they can comfortably interact with the community,” she said.

Animals lovers and others can see for themselves when the organization conducts its annual DogFest from 12 to 1 p.m. Sept. 13.

According to Koester, the national event brings awareness to what CCI does.

It also helps share the group’s mission and raise important funds while engaging local communities in activities with their families and dogs.

“We want this to be an event that everyone can participate in,” Koester said. “We are encouraging folks to engage with their pets and also spending time to show why CCI dogs are so different and the tasks and the skills that they provide to children and adults and veterans with disabilities.”

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s event will be held virtually.

“We want to keep people safe,” Koester said. “This was the best way to get information out and the best way we knew how to share with others and keep everyone safe because some of our populations fall into the high-risk category.”

Dogfest is the major fundraiser for CCI. The nonprofit owns the dog from birth through its entire time working with its client. The value of the entire partnership is $50,000 per dog.

This year’s fundraising goal is $255,000.

“The organization was founded on the fact that we wanted to help with individuals with disabilities to make this tool and relationship as easy as can,” Koester said. “So part of that was taking away that financial burden that can be placed on something. So it is important to us to place this dogs free of charge.”

During DogFest, participants can chat and ask questions. CCI will provide resources for them to learn more about what the group does.

There will be contests, prize incentives and tools provided to share emails or post pictures of people and their pets on social-media platforms.

“We want to keep it fun and an enjoyable event,” Koester said.

“You don’t even need a pet to participate.”

That’s one big advantage of the event being virtual this year. Anyone can participate and it doesn’t matter where they live.

“That’s a huge benefit,” Koester said. “In a small amount of time, people can get a taste of what we do and see how they may want to engage with us. It’s easy to do from home and doesn’t take much time.”

  • Most Recent News

    Helping Vets And Pets

    December 4, 2020

    AUTHOR AND ILLUSTRATOR Phyllis Limbacher Tildes always had a soft spot for those in need, and when she saw a video of rescued shelter pets being trained to help veterans cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, she felt compelled to give back. This burning desire helped inspire her to create a project she calls “Art […]

    Read more

    Service Dog Community

    December 4, 2020

    No longer will emotional support animals be considered service animals. A service animal is defined only as “a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability.” That means “emotional support” peacocks, pigs and horses will no longer be able to fly. For Kelly […]

    Read more

    Health Wellness For Dogs

    December 4, 2020

    As humans, we’re increasingly taking care of our health and wellbeing in holistic ways – and now, it’s the same when it comes to our dog. Subsequently, a growing market of pet treatments, therapies and supplements are now available meaning our pampered pooches have never had it so good. “Dog owners consider their dogs as […]

    Read more

    Power Of Dogs

    December 4, 2020

    It’s been a difficult year for non-profit. Many rely on big gatherings and fundraisers to create the profit they need to keep the organization running. The same goes for Project 2 Heal, a Waxhaw non-profit, who works to raise puppies to become service animals. Project 2 Heal are believers in that a dig is a […]

    Read more

    Paws With A Cause

    December 4, 2020

     The Department of Transportation has ruled that airlines will no longer allow Emotional Support Animals on airplanes. Local assistance dog organization, Paws With A Cause, explains what this ruling means for them. Paws With A Cause, based in Wayland, custom-trains Assistance Dogs for people with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act defines an Assistance Dog […]

    Read more

    Therapy Dog Jax

    December 4, 2020

    After every home game, Chandler head football coach Rick Garretson meets his wife, Wendy, and his kids at the north end zone at Austin Field. It’s there he greets his family and takes the leash of his German shepherd, Jax, who is a certified therapy dog. The two then walk toward the team huddle where […]

    Read more

    Service Dog Training

    December 4, 2020

    Do you love dogs and want to do a bit of good for the world at the same time? Now’s your time to shine. Southeastern Guide Dogs a non-profit organization that trains dogs to assist veterans and those with disabilities, is looking for a few willing volunteers to raise puppies for 12-18 months. Here’s how […]

    Read more

    Raising Money For Service Dog

    December 4, 2020

    One Somerset family is expressing their gratitude for their local community, which has come together to help them make life better and safer for two of their children. Brothers Dylan, 13, and Chase, 12, are the sons of Jami Johnson. Both were diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum as toddlers. And while the family […]

    Read more

    Guide Dogs

    December 4, 2020

    A yellow Labrador retriever named Paul was born to be a Southeastern Guide Dogs superhero, but as fate would have it, that wasn’t to be. Barely out of puppyhood, the 30-month-old dog spent his formative months like every future guide dog, living for his first year or so with puppy raisers, and then heading back […]

    Read more

    Wavely The Therapy Dog

    December 4, 2020

    or students stressed about tough classes or feeling anxious during the COVID-19 pandemic, Tupelo High School’s new therapy dog in training – a goldendoodle named Wavely – will be there to help. Anne Marie Goad, a special education teacher and MET Chair at the high school, had the notion to get a therapy dog for […]

    Read more

    More Recent News