There was a steady stream of people in an out of the Fannin County Children’s Center on the afternoon of August 1. People were stopping by to celebrate the third birthday of a very special dog. Render, the facility dog at the Fannin County Children’s Center, was a gift from Canine Companions for Independence about one year ago.
Lacey Wicks from Canine Companions was in attendance at the event. She said that they breed and train their own dogs and always give them away free of charge. Canine Companions relies on donations and volunteers to be able to do this. One way volunteers help with the process is to be Puppy Raisers. Wicks said they are always in need of more volunteer puppy raisers.
Render’s puppy raisers attended the birthday party too. Kresten and Kimberly Cook volunteered their time and resources to raise and train Render from when he was 8 weeks old til about 18 months old. They said one of their sons benefited from two different service dogs from Canine Companions as he was growing up. Being a puppy raiser seemed like a great way for them to give back. They shared stories of their time with Render and expressed how rewarding it was to see and hear about the good work Render is doing now.
Render’s handlers Kassi Lighfoot and Mandi Bruso shared several stories and examples of how Render has helped over the past year. Lightfoot estimates Render has sat in on at least 120 forensic interviews with children already. He has also participated in several counseling sessions and even gone to court with children who had to testify. Render has also attended events and activities outside of the Children’s Center, including the Fannin County Fair, reading time at the Bonham Public Library and the Kiwanis Angel League baseball.
Guests at the party enjoyed refreshments, including some special cookies shaped like dog bones and footprints, donated by Molly Lane of Cake Lane. After guests sang happy birthday to Render, he enjoyed chowing down on a peanut butter and carrot cupcake made especially for him by Lightfoot. Party guests also enjoyed taking turns getting photos with the birthday boy.
For more information about Render and the Children’s Center, go to www.fanninccc.org. For more information about Canine Companions, including how to become a puppy raiser, go to www.cci.org.