General Eisenhower and Theodore Roosevelt stopped by the NCC offices on Monday, March 26, 2012. No, we weren’t celebrating Presidents’ Day a month late; we were kicking off our new partnership with Hero Dogs, the first of three charities that NCC is pleased to announce we will officially support. Jennifer Lund, Hero Dogs’ president and founder, and Ilene Glassman, board member, brought two canine ambassadors: Ike, a black Lab, and Teddy, a Golden Retriever, to educate our staff members on their organization’s mission — and to have some puppy fun!
Hero Dogs, Inc. is a two-year old, Maryland-based 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation that focuses its efforts on raising, training, and placing service dogs with disabled military veterans, at zero cost to the veteran. While both Ike and Teddy elicited petting and coos from our dog-loving staff members upon first appearance, everyone in the room was completely smitten as they demonstrated their ability to pick up coins and credit cards to return to their trainers, turned light switches on and off, and even made sure we knew an alarm was ringing.
During her presentation, Jennifer shared that each service dog, donated by local breeders, lives with volunteer raisers and is trained to assist veterans with multiple disabilities in sessions conducted by experienced instructors over an intensive two-year training period. Raisers are instructed to praise the puppies whenever they indulge their instinct to hold things in their mouths, explore new environments fearlessly, and of course lavish them with hugs and affection. All this is part of the rigorous preparation required to ensure the puppy becomes an incredibly versatile and useful service dog.
And for those cat lovers out there — don’t worry, we’re not anti-cat! Jennifer and Ilene assured us that Hero Dogs has a feline representative as well, SWAT, who helps acclimate the service dogs to cats in order to prevent any unfortunate incidents.
After asking our fill of questions about the best breeds for service dogs (only Labradors and Golden Retrievers, Multimedia Client Services Manager Lindsay Rice!), how long they typically remain in service (until they’re about 10 years old; Lindsay, give someone else a chance to ask a question!), and where they go after they’re retired (usually adopted by the people who raised them, HR & Finance Manager Lisa Harris!), NCC staff watched as CEO Chris Marquez presented Jennifer and Ilene with a check for $3,600,the cost to sponsor a puppy through the two-year training period.
Since our inception a decade ago, we have been committed to increasing accessibility and facilitating communication for the disabled. We are privileged to have the opportunity to partner with Hero Dogs in this critical service for truly deserving recipients and to assist them in their goal of raising $100,000 this year. (And it doesn’t hurt, frankly, that we are just crazy about dogs!)
We invite you to support Hero Dogs, too, by following them on their Facebook page, making a financial donation, or spending your time to raise or train a puppy. Check out their website for more ideas on how members of the community can get involved, and stay tuned here for updates on our sponsored puppy.