For a brief moment Disneyland, The Happiest Place on Earth, got even more cheer-inducing.
Four puppies, between the ages of 9 and 14 months, recently visited Disneyland and California Adventure on a field trip.
The dogs, decked out in festive headgear, may look like they are only there for fun, but they were also doing work.
Essie, Aryssa, Chekov and Ortega are all puppies training to be assistance dogs with Canine Companions for Independence. Once they complete their training, these smiley sweethearts will be placed, free of charge, with a child or adult with a disability, who will gain new found independence and freedom thanks to their highly-skilled canine.
To get assistance dogs ready for all the of challenges they may face with their future owner, it is important that they are comfortable in all situations.
“This trip benefited them in that they were exposed to a lot of sounds that they don’t normally hear outside of Disneyland, crowds, lots of kids running around, waiting in lines (all the rides at Disneyland have two kennels so the dogs can take a break while their handlers ride), and long days (with lots of breaks). All the puppies that attended handled Disneyland like pros. We start training and exposing the puppies to things at a young age so they are prepared for these types of trips,” Laura Allen, one of the volunteer puppy raisers who attended the trip with Disney-loving dogs, told PEOPLE.
From 8 weeks until they are about 18 to 20 months old, puppies training to be assistance dogs with Canine Companions for Independence are placed with volunteer puppy raisers, who are animal-loving individuals dedicated to training, socializing and caring for these puppies until they go onto their formal training. Basically, it’s a dream come true, especially when you get to take your puppy to Disneyland.
“There were a lot of smiles and people wanting to take pictures of the puppies. It was definitely an added bonus for the Disney and dog lovers at Disneyland,” Allen said of the furry field trip.
Along with walking through the park, enjoying treats and working on their training, all of the puppies got to meet some of Disney’s top characters, including Pooh, Tigger, Rabbit, Chip and Dale.
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“Meeting the characters was definitely a highlight of the trip for these puppies. The characters are so good with the dogs (all the Disney cast members are),” Allen said.
To learn more about Canine Companions for Independence and how to become a puppy raiser yourself, visit CCI.org.