If you combine dogs with Disneyland, what do you get? Literally the happiest place on Earth. Four puppies from the non-profit Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) recently took a trip to the California-based theme park as part of their training.
“It’s great socialization for the dogs since they get to be around all the different sights, sounds, smells, and people that Disneyland has to offer,” Michelle Williams, the Public Relations and Marketing Coordinator for CCI, tells the American Kennel Club (AKC).
The organization, which was founded in 1975, breeds, raises, and trains highly-skilled assistance dogs for children, adults, and veterans with disabilities. After being with their “puppy raisers” for about a year and a half, the dogs then receive professional training at one of CCI’s six regional training centers, where they learn to pick up dropped items and return them to their handlers, open and close doors and drawers, and turn lights on and off, among other things. The dogs are then placed with recipients free of charge.
The lucky pups who got to visit the magical resort certainly made an impact on park-goers, while also bonding with famous Disney characters like Pooh and Tigger. “People absolutely loved seeing them at Disneyland,” volunteer puppy raiser Laura Allen, who attended the outing, tells AKC. “People really enjoyed seeing them sit so nicely for pictures. Another favorite for the Disney guests was when the puppies met the characters. It’s pretty adorable to see.”
Laura shares that the canine companions — named Essie, Aryssa, Ortega, and Chekov — also indulged in some “high value” treats during their day of fun, and even got to sit in one of the giant teacups.
As CCI explains on its website, “The assistance dogs we breed, raise, and train aren’t just the ears, hands, and legs of their human partners. They’re also goodwill ambassadors and often, their best friends.”