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Mans best friend
Mrs. Lynn Encum, canine assistance trainer, exhibits the capabilities of a canine assistance service dog during a ceremony at Fairchild commissary Feb. 17, 2010. During the ceremonies like this, service dogs are donated to people with physical disabilities or other special needs. In this demonstration, the service dog assisted Mrs. Lynn by removing her jacket to show the range of ways these dogs can assist those in need. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Taylor Curry)
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Military dependent receives service dog from DECA, Milk-Bone

Posted 2/25/2011   Updated 2/25/2011 Email story   Print story


by Scott King
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

2/25/2011 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- The Defense Commissary Agency and Milk-Bone partnered to award a Coeur D' Alene resident a canine assistance service dog during a ceremony at the Fairchild commissary Feb. 17.
Mrs. Tynia Rich along with her husband, David, a retired U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class, were welcomed into the Canine Assistants family at the donation ceremony. A certified trainer from Canine Assistants made the introduction and explained the benefits these highly trained service dogs can provide to people with particular needs.
"Canine Assistants service dogs assist children and adults with physical disabilities or other special needs in a variety of ways," said Ms. Lynn Encum, Canine Assistants trainer. "Some of the tasks our dogs perform include turning lights on and off, opening and closing doors, pulling wheelchairs, retrieving dropped objects, summoning help and providing secure companionship. While all of these functions are vitally important in helping a person obtain greater freedom, perhaps the most impressive gift our dogs provide is social, rather than physical, in nature. The dogs eliminate feelings of fear, isolation and loneliness felt by their companions."
Mrs. Rich's actual service dog will be selected and trained to meet her specific needs and will be given to her at the Canine Assistants Training Camp she and her husband will attend in Milton, Ga. later this year.
She has been diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia, Degenerative Disk Disease, Diabetes with Neuropathy and Fibromyalgia. She has limited mobility, memory loss, muscular weakness, reduced stamina, chronic pain and slight speech impairment.
She and her husband look forward to the constant companionship of her dog and the enhanced quality of life.

"I am thrilled to have this opportunity, "Mrs. Rich said. "I have a lot of trouble getting up and down stairs because I have problems with my balance. They are providing me with a device that the dog wears to help me with that. Words cannot express how grateful I am to the Milk-Bone and the commissary for helping. My mother, who I love dearly, once told me when I don't have the right words to say - simply say 'thank you.'"

Canine Assistants is a national charitable organization that provides service dogs to people with disabilities, at no cost to the recipient. The organization runs entirely on individual and corporate donations.

"In the past ten years we have given away about 90 dogs to military families," said Mr. JD Fenessy, Del/Monte/Milk-Bone national sales director. "Each dog costs about $20,000 to raise and train to get ready for a recipient. The military is near and dear to my heart as my father served for 37 years - we really want to get the word out so other military or retirees can take advantage of the program."

For information on the canine assistance program or how to apply, visit www.canineassistants.com.

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