Morgan Riley, a 15 year old girl from Glen Ellyn, Illinois is being praised for her work as she trains service dogs.
Each year, Riley accepts a new puppy from Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). The puppy comes into her home during the summer, and stays for the next 18 months to do training. The dogs ultimately become service dogs for people with disabilities.
“I met someone through my church who did this, and I’ve loved dogs for many years,” Morgan said. “I’ve been working with this group since I was in third grade. In the beginning, I would just help them out with some tasks. I got my first dog to train when I was in fifth grade.”
Since being founded in 1975, CCI is “the largest nonprofit provider of assistance dogs.” The organization works hard to match dogs with individuals all over the country.
Riley just accepted her sixth puppy and is also training her fifth dog as well.
The training begins with housebreaking and basic tasks. As the dog gets older, Riley begins teaching them more complex tasks such as picking up objects and opening doors.
Riley’s mother, Christina, has stated that the dogs are a 24/7 responsibility. However, the hard work has always paid off. Riley has seen three of her dogs graduate from CCI and match with people who have disabilities. One of her dogs also went on to become a therapy dog.
“With a normal 30 percent graduation rate, her achievement is outstanding for CCI,” a proud Christina Riley wrote.
Morgan states that the best part of working with CCI is, “just to see my dogs graduate and get matched with someone who needs them is very rewarding.”