The following blog was barked out by Otto to his raiser, Cory Coons.
Hi! My name is Otto, and I am a nine month old yellow lab. I’ve been living in Texas and coming to this really cool building called 'Southwest Airlines Headquarters' that is surrounded by huge, flying birds along with my ‘foster dad’ Cory for a little over six months now. He said the other humans around this place would love to hear about what I’m doing, so I’m happy to relay my story to everyone!
I was born in California, but after only a couple of months, I was sent off to a place called Texas where my new raiser, Cory, picked me up and took me to a new place. Cory and his fiancée say I’m only with them for a relatively short time and that I’ll end up doing some really great things in my life, but it’s up to them to prepare me for my future and they’ll do their best to make me feel right at home until then.
Texas is awesome! Every day, I go with Cory to ‘work’ at a place called Southwest Airlines. It’s a really cool place with lots of friendly humans who always seem to be as excited I am when we see each other. The head-patting and belly-scratching opportunities are everywhere, but Cory is pretty strict in letting these humans touch without asking because he says I’m ‘working’ too!
Every morning, before work, Cory puts my yellow ‘service vest’ on me and tells me that since I’m going with him, I have to be ready to ‘work’ as well. I’m not sure exactly what this yellow thing is, but I know I have to be on my best behavior and follow Cory’s commands when I wear it—he says it’s training me to be a good boy, that it will help me be ready when I grow up to serve someone special.
Cory and Otto
Training is fun! Each day, Cory and I work on different commands that he’s taught me. He says I’ve mastered about 25 right now, but there are still a few things I have to learn. When I have my vest on at work, I get to go pretty much everywhere with Cory. I’ve been all over the southwest Campus to things called ‘meetings,’ ‘Culture Centers,’ ‘TOPS’, and ‘Departments.' I meet a ton of People every day and get to work on my manners and introducing myself when Cory says, “Shake.”
People are the best! I LOVE people and I’m pretty sure they like me back. I’ve made so many new friends, it seems like I always hear my name when Cory and I are on the move. I meet everyone with the same enthusiasm, but Cory told me that I met a really special human named Dr. Cunningham recently.
Cory, Otto, and Dr. Cunningham
Cory said that Dr. Cunningham sits on the Board of Directors (I love to sit too!), and he’s the human responsible for getting me to Texas with Cory. Cory said that Dr. Cunningham loves the organization I will be working for when I grow up, he even says it’s on my service vest and that this group is near and dear to him, Southwest Airlines, and Cory because they help people who need assistance—I love helping too!
I’m getting bigger and bigger, and Cory says that we have a lot of exciting things coming up soon. Remember those huge flying birds I mentioned? Cory says that I’m getting ready for my first trip with one! He said that in order to get me ready to meet one, I’m going back to TOPS to meet someone named ‘Poolie’ so I can practice getting on and off on eof these birds that he calls a ‘plane’. Sounds exciting! I’ve gotten to visit some other places called ‘restaurants,’ ‘stores,’ and ‘public places.’ Since I’ve done such a great job with my training at these places, Cory says I’ll get to go with him and his fiancée more and more in the future.
Well, I’m getting pretty tired since it’s time for my next puppy-nap (my second-favorite activity to playtime). Cory says that as I keep growing and learning, you all will be excited to hear from me again, so I’ll tell him some more stories for you a little later this year. Until then, feel free to say hi when you see me around, but if I have my yellow service vest on, we both have to be on our best behavior!
Southwest partners with Canine Companions for Independence to allow service dogs in training to fly as if they are already fully-trained service animals. This partnership allows Canine Companions’ puppy raisers to train their dogs on socialization and familiarization with the airport, and it helps Southwest Employees develop into experts when it comes to delivering Hospitality to Passengers who require a service animal.
To learn more about puppies like Otto and his organization, Canine Companions for Independence, visit <cci.org>, or email his puppy raiser, Cory Coons.