Canine Companions: Creativity at Work

The function of creative leadership confronting old problems with new solutions is Canine Companions.  Traditionally, "seeing-eye" dogs guided the blind as a mobility solution.  

Observations of dog's behavior provided hints as to their ability to be solutions to other challenges.  It was a small leap to comfort companions in nursing homes, hospitals and prisons, a bigger jump to using highly developed sense of smell to alert caregivers to imminent seizures; building on the human-dog connection for PTSD treatment and the doors of creativity opened to bring apparently disparate elements together for creative solutions.  Canine Companions demonstrates this creativity. 

 
 

Combining good leadership skills and creativity can produce outstanding results.  One organization that embraces both leadership and creativity is Canine Companions for Independence.  This 501(c) 3 recognizes the potential impact of the human/canine bond and takes the partnership between humans and dogs to a higher level.  

 

Early in the history of human existence on the planet, man recognized the importance of teaming with dogs.  There is also an argument to be made that the ancestors of present day dogs recognized the benefit of joining the human family.  In any case, the partnership between humans and dogs increased the likelihood of success for both species.  However, it was not solely a partnership of convenience and mutual assistance.  Man and dog became lifelong partners and dogs joined the family as recognized and much loved members.

 

Observations of dogs’ behavior provided hints as to their ability to help humans increase their success on the planet.  From there it was a small creative leap to recognize that dogs could comfort patients in nursing homes and hospitals.  The next jump in creativity was to understand the potential for dogs to help those with physical disabilities navigate the environment.  As time went on, researchers began to recognize that dogs could use their sense of smell the alert individuals and their caregivers to impending seizures or irregular blood chemistry.  Also, recently, research on the impact of dogs on the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress symptoms has introduced the idea that the human/canine partnership can be even more impactful.

 

Canine Companions for Independence understands the power of the human/canine bond.  The organization pairs highly trained assistance dogs with individuals with disabilities.  Most recently, in partnership with the Veterans Administration, the organization is conducting a long-term study on the benefits of pairing trained assistance dogs with veterans to mitigate the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress.  The future undoubtedly holds more creative ways that dogs can support the existence of humans.   

 

Next Text:

I like this text.  Is it from the Canine Companion website?  The only change I would make here is in the last sentence – the final statement “it’s really transformational” should be a separate sentence.

Independence means a lot of different things to the people we serve, from leaving the house alone for the first time to being able to return to work or go to school. At Canine Companions for Independence, we really pride ourselves on enhancing independence for adults and children living with disabilities by providing them with highly trained assistance dogs entirely free of charge. Since our founding in 1975 we've placed more than 5,200 dogs, including just over 175 dogs with U.S. veterans of foreign wars.

We train and place four different types of assistance dogs. We have service dogs for adults with physical disabilities. We have skilled companion dogs, which are generally placed with children, but sometimes with adults, when there's a need for another person to help handle the dog. Our hearing dogs serve deaf and hard-of-hearing adults. And lastly, we place facility dogs, who work alongside professionals in various settings, such as healthcare, courtroom, and educational environments to provide a variety of therapeutic benefits.

Canine Companions dogs are trained in more than 40 different commands, ranging from picking up dropped items as small as a dime or as big as prosthetic limb, pulling manual wheelchairs, turning lights on and off, opening doors, and so on. Our hearing dogs are trained to alert their handlers to specific sounds in the environment and then actually lead them to the source of the sound.

We also find that our skilled companion and facility dogs often serve as a social bridge for children who may otherwise feel cut off socially—these dogs just totally knock down those barriers, it's really transformational.

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 San Diego, CA, 92106                                         lesliehennessy@sandiego.edu

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©2017 by Leslie A. Hennessy