Team CCUSA – Our Service Dog Success Stories

All whom have shown commitment and excellence in their respective skill sets and are hereby awarded the title of Service Dog and Handler Team. Whether their duties be that of a trusted companion, watcher of the night, watching over a child as they sleep, alerting of any imminent danger or opening doors and giving physical or emotional support. Take a few minutes to read our service dog success stories. These Teams below are our mission, our purpose. They exemplify what it means to be TEAM CCUSA.

The Alcindors & Sparky

sparkyIt isn’t everyday that you are able to witness two families lives impact one another in such an inspirational way. However, May 18, 2015 I was able to witness a Vietnam veteran and his wife sponsor a fellow veteran and his wife to not only receive a Service Dog, but sponsor her training as well. This incredible couple, who wish to remain anonymous and were met through Archie’s Bingo, didn’t simply donate money and a puppy to a fellow veteran; they gave this family a daughter, a friend and with this puppy, the strength to move past the obstacles in which their injuries have bound them up until this point. Little Sparky, the 12 week old German shepherd, was donated to Mr. and Mrs. Alcindor; both of whom are veterans and couldn’t be more deserving of such a wonderful gift. When Mr. Alcindor laid eyes on Sparky it was like seeing a child’s eyes’, face and entire being light up from sheer joy.


He and his wife smiled from ear to ear in utter bliss and simply kept thanking both Canine Companions USA as well as the incredible couple who made the miracle of Sparky possible. It is thanks to the kindness and generosity of people such as our anonymous Archie’s Bingo Sponsor Parent’s that we, Canine Companions USA, are able to continue to help veterans, children and persons’ with disabilities get service dogs’ free of charge.


Genevieve & Cocoa

GenevieveRecently, I had the opportunity to sit down with one of the parents of a very special little girl. Her name is Genevieve and she was diagnosed with chronic, but not terminal, epileptic seizures. From the time that she was 3 years and 11 months, Genevieve had experienced her first seizure. At one point, she was suffering from nearly 100 seizures a day, it was so intense that even if little Genevieve tried to take a step, it would cause a seizure. So, her mother, Paula Blake, being a teacher, carried her little girl around with her. It was during this time that Genevieve was misdiagnosed with chronic terminal epileptic seizures. The Doctors essentially wanted to shutdown half of little 6 year old Genevieve’s brain and essentially treat her like a stroke victim in order to rehabilitate her hopefully back to health. Her family couldn’t accept it and that was when they learned that she had been misdiagnosed. Desperate to find a way to help her daughter, Paula began looking into getting her daughter a service dog.


Due to Genevieve’s condition, Paula reached out to the Epilepsy Foundation in hopes of gaining assistance in attaining a service dog for her Genevieve. Unfortunately, that hope was soon dissolved when Paula learned that the Epilepsy Foundation and many others had a wait list of 5 years for anyone to get a service dog. This was a mother on a mission and she would not be swayed, so she moved onward to the next avenue which was looking for a service dog trainer. Paula had looked at and I do mean looked at, dozens of service dog trainer’s until she fell upon three that she was seriously considering. After months of correspondence and communication between Paula and the trainer, she finally settled on a price of $3,000.00 dollars to have a service dog trained for little Genevieve. It took Paula and her family a year of begging and asking friends and family for help to pull the $3,000.00 dollars together and with joy and hope in their hearts they went to the trainer to sign the contract.

Upon arrival to his establishment the dog trainer requested an additional $5,000.00 dollars. Their renewed joy and hopes were shattered. It had taken them a year of begging and scrounging in attempts to simply come up with the $3,000.00 dollars, there was just no way they could pull together an additional $5,000.000 dollars. Defeated, Paula was about to give up on all hopes on getting her daughter a service dog trainer, when at that moment, Robert Tucker from Canine Companions USA happened to contact her and essentially answered her prayers. Having gone through the wringer in the past, Paula was not taking any chances and Mr. Tucker was more than happy to oblige.

They had several correspondences, discussed allergy concerns, regarding dog fur and pet dander, size of dog to meet the needs of both a child and then a young lady as they grow together. Everything was explained in great detail. Between the months of September and October of 2013 was when Paula actually met Mr. Tucker at the breeders’ home, and after Robert helped with selecting the perfect candidate for the long road ahead. The family was able to take home a Labradoodle puppy that Genevieve has since named Cocoa. At the age of 4 months, just shortly after being brought home to Genevieve, Cocoa alerted Paula that Genevieve was about to have a seizure, even though Genevieve was 3 rooms behind closed doors. Cocoa had yet to be trained in regards to alerting or identifying seizures. The dog somehow knew instinctively that Genevieve was in distress. Canine Companion’s utilized this innate ability the dog already had to form and mold an alert warning of oncoming episodes or the immanent onset of a seizure. Cocoa provides comfort and stability and will not leave her side until Genevieve is once again stable. Cocoa is now being taught to warn and retrieve other family members of such an occurrence as well.

With everything that both she and Genevieve have overcome, when asked, what is the best thing about the Canine Companions USA program ? With a bit of a tear, a large smile and a heavy sigh of relief Paula stated ” I can finally relax, I can sleep at night knowing that she is going to be alright, I don’t have to watch her 24 hours a day 7 days a week for fear something may happen, she can go to the swing set and she can go to Sunday School with Cocoa and I know she will be alright”.

Along with the Peace of mind, there is a lot of work and commitment that goes into training a Service dog. A lot of their training is biased off of Consistency and knowing your pace as the Alpha. Within Paula’s family it was especially difficult between training and hospital visits 3 times a week, as well as a lot of hands on. All in all, between the bonding and the learning, training is progressing perfectly and between Cocoa and Genevieve, well both were made for one another.


Ed & Chloe

ChloeMeet “Chloe“, companion and service dog to the Richards family. Ed had some problems from his home owners association, they were adamant about not allowing Ed to have any sort of dog. Ed and his wife Malny were like many others, they went in search of some one to help. Ed is of course, a Veteran, and was instructed by his liaison at his local Veterans Administration office to contact Robert Tucker of Canine Companions USA for help.

“Upon meeting my family and dog and providing an assessment, he clearly explained the process and outlined a course description that involved obedience, minor behavioral modification and an alert to an oncoming medical episode for my husband”


It was agreed on to proceed right away with what CCUSA had outlined.

In the many weeks that followed, CCUSA trained Chloe in obedience and prepared her to take on the world with Ed by her side. Chloe’s primary goal was to utilize her natural abilities and alert Ed of high blood sugar, something she did quite well.

‘’Mr Tucker was able to recognize, with the help of Ed, a slight change in behavior as soon as there was even a moderate rise in glucose levels.“

We focused our training and within no time at all Chloe’s accuracy on monitoring Ed was uncanny. Ed has said,

“I knew without testing my blood sugar that it was on the way up. Chloe would jump in my lap and give me one flick of her tongue on my chin that was her signal to alert me.“

“We are very pleased with CCUSA and Robert Tucker. He gave us complete concise instructions, was patient and understanding to our needs, not only did he train Chloe but he was also able to instruct us on how to obtain proper documentation from the VA and then use his certifications to exercise our rights under ADA law and keep our service dog and home.”

The Richards family happily donated to sponsor other veterans in need.


Recon & Aries

AriesThis is “Aries”. Aries is the faithful companion of a combat wounded United States Marine veteran. For security purposes we will call him Recon. “Aries” was rescued by Recon at the age of two, no history is known about this beautiful Blue Heeler. Aries has a great smile, is very intelligent and quick to learn. CCUSA provided Aries and Recon with a strong foundation in obedience and behavioral modification (Aries loves to chase cars). Once we established our baseline we then started working on training Aries for companion dog status so he could provide support for Recon in tough times and help to provide weight support for Recon. Recon has physical limitations due to injury sustained while on active duty. Recon and Aries both exemplify exactly why CCUSA exists and the very reason and purpose for what we love to do.



Corie & Zorro

Corie & ZorroThere are those of you who have seen or read a few of the stories that I have posted over the past few months, but other than a brief introduction, not much else is known. Well, here is the mystery revealed. As most of you already know, I am a Retired Marine and my name is Corie. On July of 2014 I began not only looking, but doing research regarding a Service Dog, but everywhere I looked either wanted too much money or the waiting list was either closed or so far out you could forget about a call back. Then a fellow Marine let me know that he had German Shepherd puppies that needed to find good homes. I met Zorro for the first time on August 15, 2014 and I would be lying if I said I we didn’t connect the second our eyes locked. I can’t explain what happened, but when people say you don’t choose your animal, they choose you, it’s the truth. Zorro came up to me and treated me as if I was a Porcelain Doll; reprimanding his sibling for tugging at my hair and gently lapping at my back, almost as if he knew I was unwell. I knew then that not only had I found an animal that would make a great Service Dog, but my best friend.


On August 17, 2014 Zorro was homeward bound with me, one problem; I was still in search of a trainer. It wasn’t until September of 2014 that I was referred to Canine CompanionsUSA and let me tell you; it couldn’t have come sooner. Love may not have saved Zorro had Canine CompanionsUSA not come along. Because of the fact that I was still working, I had to leave Zorro at my apartment from anywhere between 10-11 hours alone a day. Leaving a 10 month old puppy alone in an apartment meant that he decided to eat not only my couch, my blinds, my bed, my vinyl records, my bathroom, etc… I think you get the picture. Why wasn’t I putting him in his kennel you may ask? I was; he was just managing to break out of it even when I duck taped all parts of the cage.

Thanks to the discipline and training given under the steady hand of Master Trainer Robert Tucker, Zorro has grown into what is expected of a Service Dog. As a Marine I pride myself on always striving to better myself; that includes my best friend, Zorro. Fortunately for us, Mr. Tucker and Canine CompanionsUSA not only share our mindset, but enjoy keeping our training at our pace so that we never either get stuck or bored. Overall, without them, I don’t think I would have been able to have kept Zorro let alone brought out his potential, I truly am grateful.

-Cpl Braun, C.A. USMC Retired