BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - If you've seen a puppy wearing a yellow cape being walked in the township, you've spotted a dog in training for Canine Companions for Independence.  Local residents Sean and Jennifer Manns and their family recently began raising an assistance dog-in-training for the organization.

The puppy is Carlton IV, a lab/golden retriever cross who will one-day know more than 40 advanced commands and be matched with a person with disabilities by Canine Companions for Independence, a national non-profit  organization which provides assistance dogs for children and adults with disabilities. 

Volunteer Puppy Raisers are critically important to the work of Canine Companions for Independence.  Puppy Raisers take the pups into their home at eight weeks of age, raising them, teaching them basic commands and socialization skills.  The socialization is perhaps the most important, because the dogs need to be exposed to any and all types of surroundings.   With the special yellow capes they wear, these dogs are permitted to go to many public areas that family pets aren’t allowed.   

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When the dogs reach about a year and a half old, they are returned to the Canine Companions for Independence regional headquarters in New York. They begin months of advanced training with the organizations nationally renowned instructors, before they are matched with a child or adult with disabilities.​

For more information about becoming a Puppy Raiser, visit cci.org or call 1-800-572-BARK

Canine Companions for Independence is the largest non-profit provider of trained assistance dogs with six regional training centers across the country. Established in 1975, Canine Companions provides highly trained assistance dogs to children and adults with disabilities and is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and quality and longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people. There is no charge for the dog, its training and on-going follow-up services. For more information, visit cci.org or call 1-800-572-BARK.