Four times a year Canine Companions for Independence celebrates Graduation. These graduations are a celebration of the new lives of those receiving their assistance dogs…it is also a recognition of those puppies that are leaving their puppy raisers to begin the next stage of their lives in professional training. Graduations remind all of us as to why we do what we do…they showcase the gratitude, the new lives, and the inexpressible joy of the recipients of these amazing dogs. The fullness of these ceremonies can’t quite be expressed in words…it is something that has to be experienced.
As someone who has loved animals since she was a little girl, I have had a fascination for working with animals. But I don’t think it was until I become more immersed in CCI that I really knew what working with animals truly meant. Animals change lives. Until one can fully recognize that, I think it is hard for them to really appreciate working with animals.
At this past Graduation, a woman receiving her assistance dog described how now she feels more human…whereas before this she felt almost less than human. Because of our culture that tells us our value is in what we can do, this beautiful human person felt she was of no value.
These assistance dogs slap our culture’s utilitarian view in the face. These dogs display to us that our value is not in what we can do, but rather in who we are…in the fact that we are “not just something, but someone.” Each human being is a person…a person who transcends the goods of this world.
Ask yourself this…when you look at a person, do you see something or someone?
 Catechism of the Catholic Church 357.