Gilbertsville-raised canine caregiver to assist Pa. woman

Stephanie Cibello has recently received an assistance dog from Canine Companions for Independence. Stephanie was matched with Kirk, a two-year-old yellow Lab.

Canine Companions for Independence – a national non-profit organization that provides assistance dogs for children and adults with disabilities – is proud to announce that Luzerne County resident, Stephanie Cibello has recently received an assistance dog from Canine Companions for Independence.

Stephanie was matched with Kirk, a two-year-old yellow Lab that has been trained to respond to more than fifty commands. Kirk can turn light switches on and off, open and close doors and retrieve dropped objects. However, one of his most important jobs will be to provide constant companionship for Stephanie.

Much of the thanks for this successful match goes to Canine Companions for Independence volunteer puppy raiser Brian Ludy of Gilbertsville, PA. Brian raised Kirk from an 8 week old puppy, and said goodbye to him after a year and a half. Brian(who is currently raising his second and third Canine Companions puppies named Indy and Lebeck), worked tirelessly with Kirk, teaching him basic commands, and the all-important socialization skills. When he was old enough to begin advanced training, Brian returned Kirk to the Canine Companions Northeast Regional Headquarters on Long Island where he worked for 6 months with the organizations nationally renowned instructors, learning over 50 commands.

Stephanie and Kirk were matched after completing CCI’s recent Team Training Class, an intense, two-week course held at CCI’s Northeast Regional Center in Medford, NY – one of five such centers nationwide. The Northeast Regional Center serves a 13-state area from Maine to Virginia.

Each student who attends Team Training – held at each center four times a year – is paired with a fully trained, working assistance dog, like Kirk, and is taught to work with his/her canine companion. The training course consists of daily lectures, exams, practice and public outings.

Stephanie and Kirk are settling into a routine back home in Luzerne County. Stephanie says, “Kirk is a very special dog and we hope to have many wonderful years with him. I can’t thank Brian enough”.

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