Canine Companions for Independence Creates Lifetime Bonds

Canine Companions for Independence, a nonprofit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support, recently celebrated a Canine Companions for Independence graduation ceremony. At the event, 92130 resident Jason Gacksteter received Taran II, an assistance dog from another 92130 family. Jason has cerebral palsy, which requires him to have a wheelchair, and with Taran as a guide and conversation starter, Jason feels more at ease.

According to Jason’s family, Jason is smart, funny, and insightful beyond his years, however his disability sometimes gets in his way, and as a result, he cannot share those gifts with others. This is where Taran comes in. “With Taran I am not alone,” Jason shared. “The beautiful, well-behaved Labrador/Golden Retriever captures people’s attention and it’s easier to start a conversation with them.” Willie Crawford, Taran’s volunteer puppy raiser who also resides in 92130, expressed his enthusiasm for the match, “My husband and I have known Jason and his family for many years. We were thrilled to learn Taran was matched with Jason! We couldn’t be more proud.”

Taran is Jason’s second assistance dog from Canine Companions for Independence. He received assistance dog Marisa when he was only six years old. “The assistance dogs draw people to him,” said Nancy, Jason’s mom. “People his own age come up to Jason to talk to him about his dog. It changes people’s perception of him. Instead of thinking he’s the kid in the wheelchair, they think he’s the kid with the amazing dog.”

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