Rambler Newspapers

Serving Irving, Coppell and Grand Prairie

Photo by Ariel Graham

Irving–Canine Companionsreceived a $5,000 grant for Park Place Dealerships on Wednesday, Dec. 15.

Canine Companions has helped provide service dogs to adults, children and veterans with disabilities and facility dogs to professionals working in healthcare, criminal justice and educational settingssince 1975.

“We found out a couple of days ago we were chosen for this,” Michelle Davison, executive director for Canine Companions in Irving, said. “I think one of our volunteers applied for [the grant]. It’s a wonderful surprise for us to be selected for this.

“This has been a busy year for placing dogs. We’ve actually been able to place more dogs than ever before, and we’re planning to continue that in 2022. This is going to help us to be able to continue to place dogs with individuals with disabilities here in Texas.”

“[Canine Companions] do such wonderful work in the area and have such a great organization in place to support people in need with canines,” Kara Connor, marketing manager for Park Place, said. “The impact we saw to train each dog was almost $45,000. Each animal that goes to someone in need takes a lot of time and funds, so we were happy to support in any way we could.”

In addition to the funds, each dog also takes a considerable amount of training before they are placed with their new owners. Canine Companions dog trainer Devin Ortiz said some dogs may learn as many as 40 different commands to perform everyday tasks for their owners, such as turning on lights, opening and closing doors, cupboards and drawers, and retrieving dropped pills or keys.

“Sometimes [the dogs learn] a little bit more depending on what category they’re in,” Ortiz said. “Some of them are taught the basic obedience stuff. In professional training, we work on some of the more advanced skills.

“The main working ones are pushing the drawers, because those can also translate to those automatic door buttons that are in public. The retrieve [command] can be generalized for a variety of different things. We have some dogs who have a vest that has a harness on it, and they can propel clients in a manual wheelchair. They have all that foundational work with their puppy raisers, and we are a little bit more professional training, but they are alsolearning skills that are helping them be confident and happy.”

Canine Companions is one of 24 North Texas non-profits to receive a grant during Park Place’s inaugural “season of giving” campaign. Park Place Cares, the company’s philanthropic arm, donated $100,000 to selected organizations this holiday season.

“We had an overwhelming response,” Connor said. “We had over 350 applicants, and we had a committee that ranked all of our applicants. From there, we went to select our top 24. Those are all around DFW area. They support all of our pillars, which are children’s advocacy, medical research, education and the arts. It’s a wonderful initiative,and we’re really happy that it was so successful,and we were able to award grants to deserving organizations throughout DFW.

“These funds will go directly to a dog to be trained and given to someone in need. We had some organizations that provided some really neat opportunities like being able to provide items for a teen room at a homeless center.

“Overall, our marketing team thought we might get 50 to 75 applicants. Those were the expectations going into this. When we hit over 350 with the final number, we were so pleased.The response we’ve received has been amazing. The appreciativeness of all of our groups we’ve given funds to has been really neat, especially at the end of a tough year. It’s been an amazing experience,” he said.