(Contest Nominee) CANINE PARTNERS of the Rockies – One Person. One Dog. Partners in Life.

Seven Colorado charities have been nominated in Citywide Banks’ Charity Hand-Up Contest taking place on Facebook from March 17-31, 2014. The local community is invited to vote for a nominee and enter prize drawings. $7,500 in cash donations will be split between nominees based on the voting results.  CLICK HERE for voting page

Is there a volunteer job title that sounds more fun than Puppy Raiser? None comes to my mind. But, in spite of the title, being a Puppy Raiser is serious business – sort of. Canine Partners of the Rockies (CaPR), a non-profit organization dedicated to placing highly skilled service dogs with Colorado residents with mobility limiting disabilities, is the organization that recruits volunteers to raise the puppies that will eventually become service dogs.

“Puppy Raisers are volunteers who provide all the love and attention and monetary support to raising our puppies,” explains Joyce Thielen, a second term board member of CaPR, and former Puppy Raiser. “We also ask them to attend training class with their dogs once a week.”

CaPR was founded in 2002 by three local Puppy Raisers who were volunteering for a national organization. “They trained the dogs here in Colorado that were sent all over the country … and they thought, wouldn’t it be great if we could raise and train these dogs and keep them in Colorado, and support those dogs throughout their lives?” says Thielen.

Service dogs are especially needed here in Colorado, Thielen explained, because of the high population of active disabled people. CaPR’s service dogs are placed with people who have any type of mobility limitation from an interrupted gait all the way to quadriplegics.

And because 90% of what the CaPR service dogs do is retrieving items for their clients, Golden Retrievers or Labrador Retrievers, or a cross of the two, are the breeds they work with, mostly donated by breeders. Also, Thielen points out, they are very friendly dogs to boot. “For a lot of our clients the physical door is not the only door these dogs open for people. The social barrier that a dog can break down is one of those intangibles.”

In addition to raising and training service dogs, a big part of what CaPR does is educational outreach to the public on the role of service dogs and how they help people with disabilities lead more independent lives.

After volunteer Puppy Raisers help socialize and heap love on the animals for 18 months, the dogs are sent to live and work with advanced trainers for six months. During this time, they are taught specific skills like how to turn on or off lights, open mailboxes, open doors, and open refrigerators.

But, she explains, not every puppy that enters their program goes on to become a service dog. The dog can be disqualified for health or temperament reasons. “We honor the dog. If it’s not a great match then the dog does not get placed. We look for other jobs for the release dogs,” explained Thielen.

For example, some disqualified dogs have gone on to be therapy dogs or scent detection dogs for drug or bomb squads. Or, they just might get released back into the community for adoption. Puppy Raisers get first dibs, of course. As you might imagine, it can be pretty challenging to raise a puppy for 18 months only to pass him on to someone else.

What makes CaPR truly unique is that once the dog has been placed into service, they continue to follow that dog throughout its life. The organization helps maintain teaching the dog new tasks to make sure the relationship between the dog and the client is working for everyone.

Want a warm cuddly puppy in your home? CaPR is always looking for Puppy Raisers and Puppy Sitters, who help out the Raisers, as well as financial donations for supplies for the dogs and their trainers.

A $5,000 donation from Citywide Banks would go toward implementing an advanced trainer curriculum as well as educational and training materials for the community, clients and trainers.

“We’re putting a lot of great dogs out there and changing lives one tail-wagging nuzzle at a time,” says Thielen.

For more information on ways to donate your time or money, please visit www.CaninePartnersoftheRockies.org.

Vote to Give Canine Partners a $5,000 Hand-Up
As a family owned bank focused entirely on the Front Range, Citywide Banks shares a commitment to our local community with CaPR. Through our Charity Hand-Up Contest, we are proud to spotlight the great work and ongoing needs of Colorado nonprofits.  The local community is invited to cast a vote on Facebook for one of seven nominated Colorado causes. Based on the 15-day vote, Citywide Banks will divide $7,500 in cash contributions among the seven charities nominated by bank employees. The charity with the most votes will receive the top $5,000 donation. Contest voters can also enter to win great prizes, including dinner for two at a top Denver restaurant. Official prize drawing rules are available by clicking here. Full contest details are at www.CitywideBanks.com/charity/.

How to Cast Your Vote – March 17-31, 2014
The contest is open to the general public within the Denver/Boulder community (non-customers welcome to participate; no purchase necessary). The easiest way to vote is online by clicking the “Charity Contest” tab on the Citywide Banks Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/citywidebanks. Users will need to “like” the bank’s Facebook page to cast a vote/entry online. One vote/entry is permitted during the 15-day contest. After voting on Facebook, users can use the sharing buttons to easily invite their Facebook friends to vote for their favorite charity. There is even an added bonus prize drawing for those voters that post the contest on their own Facebook timeline.

Spread the Word about Canine Partners
Tell your coworkers, friends, and family in Colorado to cast their vote on Facebook. Use the sharing buttons above this article, on the Facebook voting page, or throughout Citywide Banks’ social media pages to help spread the word.

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