Meet Michelle Carson, RN, and Sam VIII, the service-in-training puppy she’s raising for our long-time education partner, Canine Companions, a fully certified national service animal organization.

Sam VIII is a full black Lab, and she is 16 months old. She and Michelle recently visited J-Camp’s middle school group, the Sharks, at the Palo Alto JCC. These campers are engaged in PAHS’ middle school educational program, Animal Appreciation, in which they learn about the human-animal bond and how best to foster kindness toward animals, including information about working animals and their unique jobs in the community.

During Sam and Michelle’s visit, the Sharks learned how a training puppy team works—the team goals, the ways in which a puppy is socialized and trained in service commands, and the kind of equipment the puppy wears (a service-in-training vest and a gentle leader). The campers had a great time asking questions, visiting with Michelle and SAM VIII, and observing the skills and commands practiced by them as a team.

Sam and Michelle are currently working together for approximately 20 months before Sam will be returned to Canine Companions, where she will then complete 6 months of advanced service training, learning the skills to provide for her future disabled companion to enable that companion to achieve greater independence.

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