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Team of future service dogs arrives in Wichita

The pups are the newest members of Canine Companions, an organization specialized in training future service dogs across the country.
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 5:33 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Six puppies, just weeks old, arrived in Wichita Thursday aboard a plane that touched down at Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport. The pups are the newest members of Canine Companions, an organization specialized in training future service dogs across the country.

Jim Stewart is the pilot who flew the six puppies from California to Wichita. He did so on his private plane at no cost to Canine Companions.

“My flying for Canine Companions started right at the beginning of COVID because they were having trouble moving puppies from the western United States where they breed them,” he said.

In the past two years, Stewart has moved about 250 dogs. The puppies in Wichita are now in the hands of volunteer puppy raisers like Katie Cordova.

“We get the puppies until they’re about eight to 10 weeks of age and then we train them till they’re about a year and a half years old,” Cordova said.

From there, the puppies go to formal training to become professional service dogs.

“It’s definitely going to be a very bittersweet moment knowing it’s going to someone who really needs it,” Cordova said. “It’s really nice we (Canine Companions) are a nonprofit organization so the people who need the dogs actually don’t have to pay for the dogs.”

With Canine Companions, puppies are trained in more than 40 commands and matched with veterans, as well as children and adults with disabilities.

Stewart said he appreciates how the program benefits men and women who’ve served their country, able to help disabled veterans and those with PTSD.

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