Innovation Spotlight – Helping the Helpers

Community Companion

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Casey VI has a bright future ahead. A Golden Retriever puppy, Casey VI is being raised by a local volunteer to eventually serve as a highly trained assistance dog for a child or adult with disabilities. A service dog can pull their partner in a manual wheelchair, push buttons for elevators or automatic doors, and even assist with personal transactions.

Before that can happen, though, Casey VI will need extensive training, and care, to grow into the role. Fortunately, Casey VI’s volunteer puppy raiser, Nancy Missildine of Los Gatos, California, has a little help through a unique partnership between Henry Schein, Inc., Canine Companions for Independence, Inc., and Dr. Megan Hanken, a veterinarian who treats local animals at Los Gatos Dog and Cat Hospital.

Earlier this year, Dr. Hanken and the Los Gatos Dog and Cat Hospital team contributed to Casey VI’s health and development when they presented Ms. Missildine with a “Henry Schein Cares-Canine Companions Puppy Raiser Care Package.” The care package contains items essential to caring for the puppy during its first 18 months of life. With a total value greater than $300, it is designed to help defray the costs that Ms. Missildine will incur while caring for the puppy.

The package is part of a unique program created by Canine Companions for Independence, the first and largest assistance dog organization in the United States helping people with physical disabilities, and Henry Schein Animal Health. Veterinarians like Dr. Hanken have delivered more than 1,000 care packages to volunteer puppy raisers during the program, which began in September 2015.

Founded in 1975, nonprofit Canine Companions for Independence created the concept of assistance dogs for people with physical disabilities and has placed nearly 5,000 assistance dog teams. The organization has over 1,600 volunteer puppy raisers that provide early socialization and basic obedience training, both of which are essential in preparing a puppy for life as an assistance dog.

“Our partnership with Canine Companions for Independence means so much to our entire team, as it allows us to give back to society while also supporting these amazing animals and the dedicated veterinary professionals and volunteers who care for them,” said Davey Stone, Vice President, Specialty Markets & Sales Services. “It is humbling to know that we’re playing a role in shaping future Canine Companions service dogs, and an honor to support the people who give so much of themselves to this organization.”

A special bond
Henry Schein Territory Manager Sue Brodbeck, who delivered the care package to Los Gatos Dog and Cat Hospital, has been part of the Henry Schein Cares-Canine Companions Puppy Raiser Care Package program since it began in 2015. She is also a licensed Registered Veterinary Technician who was working in practices for nine years before joining the industry side of the profession. “I have spent 99 percent of my working life in this industry, and what I enjoy most is sharing new and novel products and treatments to help our pets live the wonderful lives they deserve,” she says. “I also look forward to meeting others in the industry who share the same goal and mentoring folks who want to spend their lives helping people help their pets.”

That includes her participation in the Henry Schein Cares-Canine Companions Puppy Raiser Care Package program. Brodbeck says with every delivery, they try to bring together the veterinarian, supporting vendor rep, the puppy, and puppy raiser. “It does take some coordination to pull it all together, but when we do, we have a lot of happy faces.”

Brodbeck says dogs offer a special bond “and someone to talk to, and these care packages help defray some of the cost of raising these puppies, so it’s rewarding that we’re helping puppy raisers offer their services in training these dogs to eventually help disabled people.”

Part of the family
In June, Henry Schein Territory Manager Joann Hadaway partnered with Dr. Dave Pilkington, a veterinarian who treats local animals at Custer McDermott Animal Hospital in Plano, Texas, to provide the essential products and care for Reuben, a puppy being raised by a local volunteer to eventually serve as a highly trained assistance dog.

Hadaway says she became involved with CCI when the Henry Schein Cares-Canine Companions Puppy Raiser Care Package program began, and became more involved when CCI opened a campus (Las Colinas, Texas) in her territory and she began working with them as a customer. “With a center so close, there are more and more puppy raisers in my territory that I get to meet when I present my doctors with a puppy raiser care package.

“It is really humbling to talk to the puppy raisers, who donate their time and are willing to incur the expense of raising the puppy during its first 18 months of life, then return it to CCI for additional training and eventual placement,” Hadaway continues. “Some of the families I have spoken to have raised puppy after puppy.”

She and her family recently adopted a CCI dog that had been released from the program and needed a home. “They told us this is called ‘a career change,’” she says. “He has been a great addition to the Hadaway Family.”

CCI helps dogs help people, and the most rewarding part of that is knowing how carefully they work to pair the right dog with the right person in need, at no charge, Hadaway says. “This is why donations and puppy raisers for CCI are so vitally important!”

The “Henry Schein Cares-Canine Companions Puppy Raiser Care Package” includes:

  • HEARTGARD® Plus – Boehringer Ingelheim
  • NexGard® Chewables – Boehringer Ingelheim
  • FURminator® Grooming Brush – KVP International, Inc.
  • 1 quart Stainless Steel Bowl – VSSI, Inc. (now a part of Midmark Corporation)
  • 2 quart Stainless Steel Bowl – VSSI, Inc. (now a part of Midmark Corporation)
  • Nutrisentials® Lean Treats – Henry Schein® Animal Health
  • C.E.T.® VEGGIEDENT® Tartar Control Chews for Dogs – Virbac Animal Health
  • C.E.T.® Fingerbrush with Toothpaste Packet – Virbac Animal Health
  • Welactin® Omega 3 Liquid Supplement – Nutramax®

**Products subject to change