PenFed Credit Union, the nation’s second-largest federal credit union, has partnered with the oldest name in American assistance-dog training, Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), by welcoming two yellow Labrador puppies, Admiral III and Clint III, as assistance dogs in training. Admiral is based near PenFed headquarters in Tysons Corner, Va., and Clint in Alexandria, Va.
“PenFed is proud to work with Canine Companions and provide support to children, adults and veterans with disabilities. We are especially proud to support the men and women who have served our country and protected our freedoms,” said James Schenck, PenFed Credit Union president and CEO, in a press release on the PenFed website. “Admiral and Clint are part of a mission to help open doors for people with disabilities to become more independent. They also provide unconditional love, companionship, and loyalty. We are committed to this program and making it work for our employees who are donating their time to raise these dogs for a very noble cause and plan to expand the program to our Omaha and Eugene locations.”
In the last year PenFed has provided $60,000 in funding to CCI and is covering all costs associated with the puppies for the two employee volunteer dog raisers.
Over the next 18 months, the puppies will learn basic commands and socialization skills by accompanying PenFed’s first volunteer assistance dog raisers Lisa Jennings, senior executive vice president, and Emma Phillips, university relations and campus recruitment lead, to work every day and by joining all of their personal activities.
“With every gift given there is a responsibility to give to others,” said Jennings, who is also a volunteer member of “Pets on Wheels,” an organization of the Fairfax County Area Agency on Aging where pets visit and support people living in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. “I’m excited to raise Admiral as one of PenFed’s first volunteer dog raisers as it’s an opportunity to improve a life not just for a few moments, but for years to come.”
According to the press release, part of Clint’s mission to become an assistance dog will also include accompanying Phillips on college campus visits this fall to recruit future PenFed employees. It’s part of how the company is showing up differently on campus.
“I strive to give back to others and am delighted to take on this opportunity to show my children what it takes to have a heart of service,” said Phillips, an experienced show dog trainer. “I look forward to traveling with Clint to college campuses this fall to recruit future PenFed employees because it shows our company’s commitment to bettering the lives of others, in all that we say and do.”
The PenFed volunteer dog raisers will spend the next 18 months raising Admiral and Clint as part of the PenFed family to prepare them for the next step in the program, where they will spend an additional six months with Canine Companions professional instructors learning over 40 advanced commands that are useful to a person with disabilities.
"We're excited to form this new partnership with the employees of PenFed Credit Union, and we congratulate them for their ongoing compassion and commitment to helping people with disabilities," said Debra Dougherty, Canine Companions northeast region executive director. "We know that PenFed employees will have a great experience supporting these new puppies as they begin their journey to become highly trained assistance dogs. Canine Companions is extremely grateful to PenFed and their employees, who are supporting our program and giving their time and energy to raise two pups that will soon be making an amazing difference in the life of a person with disabilities."
For the last 43 years, Canine Companions has been committed to providing four different types of highly trained assistance dogs to those in need at no cost. Assistance dogs assist adults with physical disabilities by performing daily tasks. Hearing dogs alert their partners, who have a hearing disability, to important sounds. Facility dogs work with clients with special needs in a visitation, education, criminal justice or health care setting. Skilled companions enhance independence for children and adults with physical, cognitive and developmental disabilities.
PenFed will provide updates throughout the two-year training period via social channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.