It’s May, and we are celebrating one of the most fiesta-focused holidays of the year this month … no, not Cinco de Mayo, it’s Otto de Mayo! Our Canine Companions pup in training, Otto, turned one year old on May 2, so what better time than now to check in on his progress as a service dog in training.
At one year old, Otto has learned over 30 basic commands to prepare him for the more difficult service commands he will learn in advanced training next year. Otto has also been exposed to a wide variety of environmental and social atmospheres to help him acclimate to following commands in even the most distracting of environments. Otto has visited restaurants, retail stores, grocery stores, Southwest meetings and functions, outdoor social environments, parks, and countless other new places with all kinds of new faces, sights, and smells—the sign of a truly well-traveled pup!
Otto has been a staple of the Customer Services Team at Southwest Headquarters Campus (HDQ), and he’s developing quite the social network of friends at Southwest and Canine Companions alike. The legend of Otto is ever-expanding and some of his favorite human friends from Customer Services, CR Advocacy, and the Executive Assistant Teams at Southwest, including a surprise guest appearance from his puppy raiser mom, Crystin, gathered together to throw him the ultimate surprise dog birthday.
Complete with party hats, peanut butter cups for Otto, and doggie bags for the human attendees, Otto’s First Birthday PAWty was a blast! After Otto’s birthday paw-ty, we (me, Otto, my fiancée Crystin, and the Customer Services Team) spent the afternoon celebrating again by serving lunch at the Canine Companions Kinkeade Campus in Irving to the Teams in training to receive their service dogs that week.
Each quarter, the Canine Companions campus hosts Team Trainings to match graduating service dogs with those in need, completely free of charge. These Teams spend two weeks working together to identify specific needs and matching that to each dog’s best skillset.
Canine Companions relies on the volunteerism of those outside the organization; not only to raise and train puppies, but also to serve lunches during these Team Training weeks. If you or your Team are looking for additional volunteer opportunities with an established Southwest partner, serving lunch during Canine Companions Team Training may be a great chance to interact with this wonderful organization and meet some incredibly special people along the way. You can get more information from the Canine Companions website, www.cci.org, or simply reach out to Cory Coons for additional information.