Training Tulip: Group teaches dogs 40 commands to assist those with disabilities

When Cindy Thompson trains puppies, the commands go way beyond “sit” and “stay.” She raises them to become assistance dogs for Canine Companions for Independence. The dogs have to learn 40 commands.

“We don’t teach ‘no,’ ” she said. “Instead, we teach ‘don’t’ … We teach them to be in public and not be obnoxious.”

Canine Companions reports it currently has four people in the Las Vegas Valley raising puppies to be service dogs.

“Volunteer puppy raisers come from all walks of life,” said Katie Malatino, public relations coordinator for the group’s southwest region. “They include young families, couples, friends, single folks and retirees. The commonality among them all is commitment to Canine Companions’ mission. They need to keep the goal of producing a highly trained assistance dog for someone with a disability to enhance his or her life practically, emotionally, and socially in mind at all times.”

Thompson, who lives east of Summerlin near the Rainbow Curve, trained one dog, Mancha, from 2013-15. Ultimately, Mancha was not selected to be a service dog, but his genes made him suitable as a breeder for future trained companions.

Tulip came to Thompson at 8 weeks old and has learned a number of commands in just a couple of weeks. Thompson will keep her until she is a little more than a year old. During that time, she’s tasked with putting the pup into various situations and teaching her not to react to sudden noises or actions.

Tulip wears a “gentle leader,” a nose muzzle-like apparatus that is not a muzzle at all. It merely gets her used to wearing a strap around her face.

“She can do everything with it on,” Thompson said. “She can even eat in it.”

Tulip can also nip at Thompson’s cats with it on, something she demonstrated in her puppyish way. The cat put up with it for only so long before finding a less hazardous place to lie down. It’s all part of learning to get along.

Besides the gentle leader, Tulip also wears a fabric vest proclaiming her status as a companion dog in training.

Thompson is well-qualified to raise an assistance dog for Canine Companions. Her day job is as a software support technician, but she is also a veterinary technician. She volunteered for the Canine Companions program after learning about it from her veterinarian when she lived in California.

Getting Tulip adapted to the idiosyncrasies of life comes in steps. Tulip could not visit a community park, for example, until she had all of her shots.

Even then, she wasn’t allowed into the dog park portion as the risk of encountering an unvaccinated dog is too great for such a high investment. Canine Companions estimates it spends $50,000 to raise a dog to be one of its assistance dogs.

The dogs are provided to those with disabilities for free, all thanks to volunteers and donors.

Usually, those who train the puppies have previous experience with owning a dog, but it’s not a requirement. Some have their own pooches.

“As long as you have a friendly, well-socialized dog, who would (accept) the presence of another dog in the house, then it’s not a concern on our end,” Malatino said.

Trainers keep the dog from 8 weeks until they are 14 to 16 months old.

That’s a long time to have a dog in your house, caring for it and bonding with it. Such a close relationship can mean the heart takes a hit when it’s time to give it back to the organization.

“Obviously, you have to go into this endeavor with having our mission in mind,” Malatino said. “You have to understand from the get-go that this isn’t your pet. You’re raising it to have a higher purpose. If you don’t have that mindset, then, yeah, it’ll be difficult (to let go). But it would be difficult no matter what, but amazingly, most of our volunteers do this over and over and over again. They get so much pride and fulfillment from seeing their dogs go on to helping someone with a disability, they know they’re helping to change somebody’s life for the better.”

About 35 to 45 percent of the dogs in the program become assistance dogs, the organization reported. Those that do not become assistance dogs sometimes go on to other careers, such as search and rescue, drug detection or border patrol.

“If they are not suitable to become working dogs,” said Malatino, “then the volunteers who raised them are offered first dibs to adopt them. If that doesn’t work out, we have a long list of families who would jump at the chance.”

She said anyone interested in raising a Canine Companion pup should visit the website first, then reach out to the organization to be connected with someone who’s already raised a Canine Companion so they can further learn if it’s right for them.

Call 800-572-2275 or visit

To reach Summerlin Area View reporter Jan Hogan, email or call 702-387-2949.

Downtown Summerlin hosts its annual Festival of Arts
People crowd to Downtown Summerlin for the 23rd annual Summerlin Festival of Arts in Las Vegas, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County educators debate alternative grading systems
Spring Valley High School principal Tam Larnerd, Spring Valley High School IB coordinator Tony Gebbia and retired high school teacher Joyce O'Day discuss alternative grading systems. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Grandparents on the fire that killed three family members
Charles and Doris Smith talk about the night an apartment fire took the lives of three of their family members. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
New York artist Bobby Jacobs donated a sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden
Bobby Jacobs, an artist from upstate New York, has spent much of the past year creating a sculpture of two separate angel wings. He donated the sculpture to the Las Vegas Healing Garden. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Weather will cool slightly through the end of the week
The weather will cool slightly through the end of the week., but highs are still expected to be slightly above normal for this year. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mayor announces new public-private partnership
Mayor Carolyn Goodman announced the creation of the Mayor’s Fund for Las Vegas LIFE, a public-private partnership that will allocate money to the city’s neediest.
Fremont9 opens downtown
Fremont9 apartment complex has opened in downtown Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Fall fairytale gets cozy at Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio Conservatory introduces its fall-themed garden titled "Falling Asleep." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
What the house that Ted Binion died in looks like today
Casino heir Ted Binion died in this Las Vegas home in 1998. Current home owner Jane Popple spent over $600,000 to restore and modernize the home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Rescue Mission employees terminated
Don James, a former employee for the Las Vegas Rescue Mission, talks about the day his team was terminated. (Erik Verduzco/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Cupcakes at Freed's Bakery
Freed's Bakery will have Raiders-themed cupcakes available in store and for order during football season. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s fans say goodbye to Cashman Field
Las Vegas 51s fans said goodbye to Cashman Field in Las Vegas, Monday September, 3, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
51s owner Don Logan's last weekend at Cashman Field
Don Logan, owner of the Las Vegas 51s, gives a tour of Cashman Field before the team's final weekend using the field. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Metro Asst. Sheriff Brett Zimmerman on Aug. 8 officer-involved shooting
Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Brett Zimmerman met with media Monday to discuss the details of the 14th officer-involved shooting of the year. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program
Matt Kelly Elementary School hosted its third annual Back-to-School Red Carpet Program where community and business leaders joined to welcome students back with an inspirational welcome. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Star Trek fans on show’s enduring popularity
Star Trek fans at the Star Trek Convention 2018 talk about why they think the show has stayed popular across the years Thursday, August 2, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Celebrity photographer dedicates dance book to Las Vegas shooting victims
Behind the scenes with local celebrity photographer Jerry Metellus as he talks about his Dance For Vegas coffee book dedicated to the 58 victims of the October 1 shooting. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Dreamsickle Kids Foundation founder Gina Glass talks awareness
Gina Glass, 35, founded Dreamsickle Kids Foundation to raise awareness for sickle cell disease in Nevada. (Jessie Bekker/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Meadows School founding kindergarten teacher retires after 34 years at the school
Linda Verbon, founder of the The Meadows School's kindergarten program and the first faculty member hired at the school, retired in the spring after 34 years at The Meadows. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kids become firefighters at Fire Station 98 open house
Henderson residents wore fire hats, learned about CPR and met firefighters at the Fire Station 98 open house Saturday, August 11, 2018. (Marcus Villagran Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
People from all over the world attend RollerCon 2018
RollerCon 2018 is a five-day convention focused on the roller derby community and culture at Westgate in Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like