By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – The Max Boevers family of Edmond recently completed two weeks of training and was matched with a skilled assistance dog from Canine Companions for Independence. Canine Companions is a non-profit organization that breeds, raises and trains assistance dogs for children and adults with disabilities.
Born with cerebral palsy, Max, 26, is now living with Maureen IV, a two-year-old black Labrador/Golden retriever cross, who has been professionally trained in over 40 commands.
Maureen will assist Max, a wheelchair user, by picking up dropped items, opening and closing doors and drawers and other tasks that will enable him to live a more independent life.
In addition to helping with physical tasks, Maureen also provides emotional support and daily companionship to Max.
Max graduated with Maureen, a certified Skilled Companion dog, after completing the intense, residential, two-week Team Training course with his family at Canine Companions’ Southwest Regional Center in Oceanside, CA.
During Team Training, students are strategically matched with assistance dogs and learn how to work with them safely and effectively. Team Training is a fast paced, intense, hands-on experience for both dogs and students alike. The students learn how to handle the dogs, give commands and take field trips to local public establishments. Team Training is emotional, rewarding and often challenging for everyone.
Costs to breed, raise, train an assistance dog and provide ongoing support to the team are estimated at $50,000, however, Canine Companions assistance dogs are provided free of charge to recipients.
Max is truly excited to have a best friend who can go with him in public, open doors and perform other important physical tasks, as well as offer constant companionship.
According to Max’s mom, Lisa, Max and Maureen make a perfect team.
“When I asked Max about Maureen he says she is his best bud,” Lisa said. “He likes that they get to go everywhere together and everyone welcomes them as a team. She is always on his side and gives him more confidence.
“I am amazed at how smoothly Maureen has fit into our family,” Lisa added. “We live an active lifestyle and she is always up for a road trip or sporting event. It’s great that Max has her by his side and we all enjoy her company. She is a jewel.”
Established in 1975, Canine Companions has six training centers across the country, including California, Florida, Ohio, New York and Texas. Canine Companions is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and the quality and longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people. There is no charge for the dog, its training and ongoing follow-up services.
On Saturday, October 13, the 4th annual DogFest OKC will take place at Oklahoma City’s Earlywine Park, 3101 S.W. 119th Street, from 12 – 3 p.m., benefiting Canine Companions. Furry friends and families will gather for a day of fun, festivities, graduate speakers, dog demonstrations, music, and food. Registration is free.
For more information about Canine Companions, call 800-572-BARK or visit cci.org.