Glen Allen woman raising companion dog

A Glen Allen woman recently began raising an assistance dog in-training for Canine Companions for Independence, a national non-profit organization that provides assistance dogs for children, adults and veterans with disabilities.

Mary Meghan Rice is raising Puppy Rotary III, a yellow lab/golden retriever cross who will one day know more than 40 advanced commands and be matched with a person with disabilities.

Volunteer puppy-raisers are important to the organization's work. They take the pups into their home at eight weeks of age, raising them, teaching them basic commands and socialization skills. The socialization is perhaps the most important, because the dogs need to be exposed to any and all types of surroundings.

With the special yellow capes they wear, these dogs are permitted to go to many public areas that family pets aren’t allowed. When the dogs reach about a year and a half old, they are returned to the Canine Companions for Independence regional headquarters in Medford, N.Y. There, they begin 6 months of professional training with the organization's instructors before they are matched with a child or adult with disabilities.

To learn how you can become a puppy raiser, visit http://cci.org or call 1-800-572-BARK.
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The Cheswick Walking Club for ages 50+ meets every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Cheswick Park, 1700 Forest Ave. This club combines fitness and fun for the walker who likes to socialize. A club meeting is held on the first Tuesday of each month at Belmont Recreation Center. Visitors are welcome. For details, visit http://www.henrico.us/rec. Full text

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