BEACHWOOD – This is not a story about Hansel and Gretel. But it is a story about Kim and Gretel III, a two-year-old black lab specially trained by Canine Companions for Independence.
The national nonprofit has been matching assistance dogs with children, adults and veterans with disabilities since 1975. Gretel III was recently matched with Beachwood resident Kim Bratnik, and the then pair completed Canine Companion’s Team Training Class, an intense two-week course held in Medford, New York where they learned to work together during daily lectures, exams, practice and public outings.
Now back in Beachwood, Gretel III responds to over 40 commands, such as turning light switches on and off, opening closed doors and picking up objects Kim may have dropped.
Her most important job, however, is constant companionship for Kim. Gretel III is Kim’s second assistance dog, as her first dog Orson passed away last year after nine loving years of companionship.
Kim hopes to form the same special bond with her new assistance dog.
“Gretel is a very special dog and I hope to have many wonderful years with her,” said Kim.
Canine Companions for Independence has six regional training centers across the country. There is no charge for receiving an assistance dog, training or ongoing follow up services. For more information, visit cci.org or call 1-800-572-BARK.