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Canine Partners For Life

Rating: 4.2 stars   15 reviews 2,627

Nonprofit Issues:

Animals, Human Services, Cancer

Address:

PO Box 170 334 Faggs Manor Road Cochranville PA 19330 USA

Mission:

To increase the independence and quality of life of individuals with mobility impairments, primarily disabilities and seizure disorders, by providing professionally trained service dogs and support services. Each dog will be trained to meet the specific needs of individual recipients. Our support services shall ensure that our teams perform in a manner that promotes the welfare of the recipient, canine, and public. Our goal is to establish a lifetime bond between the recipient and the dog. Our efforts will be focused on, but not limited to, an area within a 250-mile radius of Cochranville, Pennsylvania.

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Reviews for Canine Partners For Life

Rating: 5 stars  

My Canine Partners for Life Story: I am an individual who is fifty-seven (57) years old, and the first thirty years of my life, I was healthy, active and on a great career trajectory to success. Then, suddenly in 1987, I experienced my first grand mal seizure and it was the onset of epilepsy for me, which changed my life forever. I continued to work for the next fourteen years, until the frequency and severity of my seizures forced me to go out on disability in (2001). This was a profoundly sad moment in my life.

The scariest part of grand mal seizures is that you never feel them coming on, they strike without warning. You simply collapse, commonly resulting in injury. After regaining consciousness, you don’t know what happened. Thus, epilepsy easily imprisons people, removing them from the real world. This neurological disorder did it to me, depression set in, and this was an ongoing battle of my life for fourteen years.

Shortly after that, a friend showed me a TV program featuring the non-profit organization, called: “Canine Partners for Life” (CPL). It detailed the wonderful work that “service dogs” do for disabled individuals, such as: retrieving objects that are out of a person’s reach, opening and closing doors on command, turning light switches on and off, providing balance and support, assist bed-dependent individuals to move, assist with dressing and undressing, provide stability on stairs, take purchases and wallets to a cashier, seizure alerts, cardiac alerts, and much more. I was truly impressed and contacted “CPL” and arranged an interview.

After recovering from brain surgery in (2003), I went back to “CPL” and they introduced me to my first seizure alert dog. Amazingly, during our first meeting, she warned me in advance of an oncoming seizure. I laid down on the floor and she waited the seizure out by my side. That positive moment, with my first ever advanced seizure warning, changed my life forever. My first dog and I were a team for seven years. Her ability to warn me of oncoming seizures helped me take back control of my life. When she passed away in (2010), it was a staggering loss, that created a vacuum in my life.

In 2012, I traveled again to “CPL”, this time to meet my successor full-service seizure alert dog. At that time he, was a 5-year-old male, cream Labrador retriever. We trained together and graduated from (CPL) Team Training classes in the “Summer of 2012” and have been together since, almost three years now.

He warns me of oncoming seizures with complete accuracy and reliability, quickly alerting me and getting me to react. He isn’t satisfied until I lie down so he can place his front legs across my waist, and he won’t let me up until my seizure is entirely over. He gets up and licks my face, signaling that it’s safe for me to slowly get back up.
These days, without warning, I also frequently lose my balance. But I keep a good grip on the harness that he wears to provide me the necessary support through these unexpected challenges. This prevents me from falling and spares me many possible injuries and broken bones. Thanks, (CPL).

In my case, over the past fourteen+ years, both dogs have helped restore my confidence and allowed me to deal with my disability in a positive manor. Advance warnings of seizures prevents epilepsy from controlling my life, and I know firsthand just what a tremendous help a “service dog” is: physically, psychologically, and emotionally, each and every day of my life.

It’s a true partnership in the face of a tough physical battle. For me, it means freedom. It means my life has been “restored to normalcy”. My dogs have given my family back much of the freedom they sacrificed to help me with my disability.

I continue to have seizures, chronic head pain, balance problems, and struggles with side effects from the many medications that I take. But, I also get out of the house, travel, and enjoy life, thanks to: my “service dog” and my family & friends. God bless my “canine partner” and “Canine Partners for Life”.

From a life-shattering disability and depression to reclaiming my life, I am now the most enthusiastic advocate for “Service Dogs” you’ll ever meet. I know that there are many people just like me, with their own stories of physical tragedy and triumph with their “Service Dogs” from “CPL”.

Remember this important fact, that: “Service Dogs restore a level of normalcy in a disabled individual’s life - they are a true miracle.” Thanks, “CPL”.

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Rating: 1 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

This organization placed a sick dog with a client (with my friend). She fundraised for months and worked so hard to go to CPL from another state to get a service dog. They brushed off his health issues as minor (when he broke out in an episode during training, they said it was no big deal), but these health issues cost my friend over $1,000 in vet expenses in their first year together alone. She took him to specialist after specialist trying to get his illness under control --and CPL offered NO support whatsoever in regard to his illness --though there were records of him having this issue in his vet records from before placement. Since he was placed with her with this condition, CPL should have helped with veterinary expenses since they placed a sick dog with her. The trainers and staff continued to just brush off her concerns --saying that, if she couldn't afford his costly treatments (which, by the way, rendered him unable to work), that she should just return him to the program. I watched my friend pour everything she had into trying to make her dog better.

Yet he kept breaking out in rashes over and over. He had to be put on steroids and special creams over and over which made him feel lousy and made him unable to provide the assistance he was trained to provide.

She took him to the veterinary college several times to try to find an answer as to why her friend kept getting so sick and the cause of these recurrent rashes. The answer was an autoimmune-type issue. They tried several management techniques without success --he kept breaking out. No matter what expensive limited ingredient diet she fed. No matter what pills or cream she was given by the vets at the vet school to try. He just was not improving.

She had to make the most heartbreaking decision of her life in returning her partner to CPL. The specialists said he would never be cured --that he would struggle with his medical issues his whole life and recommended she return him, stating that maybe if he wasn't working in public anymore that his exposure would be less --and there would be less stress on his body. Under the strain of mounting veterinary bills and finally reaching a breaking point where she had to do what was best for the dog she loved, she returned him to CPL. He was later released from the program and adopted out (after they told my friend at first that they planned to place him out again as a service dog with someone else --my friend had to beg them not to place him out again, but to do what was best for him and find him a loving home where he would not have to work in public anymore and where they could meet his medical needs and manage his disease).

CPL seriously breached my friend's trust. The program that was supposed to be there for her and support her and her dog after graduation, yet did not --they stepped back and let them flounder. Until they address the issues that are popping up in their breeding lines (producing dogs with severe allergies and I'm sure other health issues like my friend's dog), I cannot recommend them as a service dog provider.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Evaluate dogs more thoroughly for health and temperament issues --also have a guarantee that dogs being placed are healthy and sound --good breeders provide health guarantees for the dogs they produce and will replace a dog or refund the cost if a dog has a genetic disease or has a health issue at placement.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

A little

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

No

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Badly

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I was a part of the Fall Class in 2012. Sundance has been a miracle to me since day one, I loved Team Training even though sometimes I would get frustrated or tired there was always someone (trainer, classmate, or support person) there to help/encourage you to move forward. In those 3 weeks I gained my confidence back, made forever friends (even though I only knew them for 3 weeks, it feels like i've known them for years!), & didn't faint once thanks to Sunny! I remember being so scared to share journals, but once I did I realized there was nothing to be afraid of. During our training hurricane Sandy hit... boy was that scary, but in some ways I wasn't as afraid as I usually would have been because of Sundance! I just can't even fully put into words how much CPL has changed my life! I don't know where I would be if it weren't for Sundance and the support from CPL. They taught us all so much during those 3 weeks, trust me it's worth going to an organization to get your service dog! Not only do you get the information you need to make a great partnership even better, you have people there who understand you, who finish your sentences sometimes because they too have gone through that, you also have a great staff there to support you when you are having some bumps in the road, and you have Graduate Support classes you go to each month or so to go back over some skills, share problems/experiences, & meet new/old teams!
I would recommend this to everyone that has a disability! It will be the best decision you will ever make! Like I said, If I didn't have SUndance I don't know where I would be, and on top of that, I never would have graduated with my (high school) class in 2013, or finished my last year of dance, or even have the courage to leave the house often (because I didn't know when I was going to faint). Now that I have Sunny, i've graduated, finished my last year of dance, and I'm more confident to go out and do things!

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I started as a puppy home in 1998, and later in 2006 became the recipient of a service dog who helps me with mobility and is also a medical alert dog. This is an outstanding organization which holds both the dogs' and recipients' welfare in utmost importance. The Director, trainers and staff have always shown love and respect to CPL's dogs. No puppy or dog is "made" to be a service dog - some are released within their two training years for medical reasons or because they just don't want to work as service dogs. If you are thinking of accepting the responsibility of being a Canine Partners for Life recipient, please know that team training is a stressful time. And, it may take some time for the dog/human team to comfortably work together. It took me around 8 months to recognize what my dog was doing to alert me. Even though I had trained the puppies for many years, I was totally blown away at how positively life-changing becoming a Canine Partners for Life team would be. I recommend this group highly.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I have been dog training since 1997 when Canine Partners for Life teamed with my first service dog. At that time it was run out of the Executive Director's home but they still exhibited an extremely professional approach to service dog training, covered ever possible aspect of dog health, behavior and training. I returned to CPL for my second service dog and was placed in the Summer 2011 team training class. I found the same professionalism enhanced by an even more organized and more thorough lesson plan.

The 2011 class was twice the size of the 1997 class but I felt like I had more time to talk to the trainers and the Director. I had some real concerns about some issues at home and they worked with me to find solutions. I had to leave training early because of needing emergency surgery, and while I was allowed to bring my dog home until I could return for the fall class, the Director had me sign an addendum to their usual contract that listed several requirements so they were assured that I was handling my dog safely in public and private. Safety is paramount!

I believe Canine Partners for Life is one of the best programs out there in terms of the quality of dogs and their training and of their genuine desire to make the best teams possible. I applied to 5-6 organizations when I first starting looking for a service dog, and actually interviewed with one other. I have seen service dogs that were owner trained and that came from other programs so I feel very confident in my assessment.

As I said CPL started me on my training journey but I worked with trainers locally for a 18 months when I brought Kia home. I read and watched videos about training to help me and my dog. Now I've started the process again with Magee. It is a commitment.

If you decide to apply for a dog from CPL, don't expect miracles. Don't expect you won't have to work during team training and beyond. Dog training is not a one shot and you're done deal. It's a life-long commitment to your dog, honing skills and teaching new ones. Although the staff tries to match you with a suitable dog, unless you go and visit multiple times in person before you're assigned a dog, all they have to base their judgements on are your essays, your application and your video interview. If you don't represent your lifestyle and disability accurately, you may not get the dog you need.

I'm sorry Anonymous and Speaking Out feel they were treated badly and misled by Canine Partners for Life. I was there but do not share their same perceptions of what they say they witnessed. Not every group will meet every person's needs. I hope they can get the help they need somewhere.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

My service dog Kia changed my life, giving me independence and companionship. (1997) My service dog Magee has helped me in those areas as well as been a great emotional support after a great loss in my life.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I honestly can't think of one.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

How did you find this group?

Magazine article on service dogs in 1996.

What, if any, change in your life has this group encouraged?

They encouraged me to think outside my limitation, to try even if I'm not sure I can, then try again.

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

FYI, JessicaHarlingen posted on Jan 3rd 2012 and then psted the exact same review under the name of SpeakingOut on April 30th 2012. CPL is a REALLY GREAT organization! I was partnered with my service dog in fall 2011, and the relationship has changed my life. I use a wheelchair, and I am mostly blind. I did a lot of research about service dogs and the organizations which train them. I wanted to make sure I knew what I was getting into before I took on the responsibility. I spoke to a number of organizations who wanted nothing to do with me because of my two, severe disabilities. CPL did not even blink when I told them. I wanted an assistant dog, not a guide dog. They were fine with that.
On my first visit to CPL, I was impressed with the cleanliness of the facility, and the gentleness of every dog there. I could really tell that the people at CPL care about the dogs. They feed them high quality food, give them lots of exercise, use kind treatment/training methods, and love on the dogs as parents love on their children. My favorite part of the training facility is the “cuddle room”. Volunteers come very frequently to sit with, pet, and love on the dogs. These dogs have lots of work to do, and so they deserve to be pampered a lot.
I was matched with a playful, loving, and highly intelligent yellow lab. This dog was partnered with another recipient before me, but the recipient did not feel he was ready for the commitment of a service dog.
My girl is amazing. She learns quickly, and loves fiercely. She is still a dog, though. Sometimes she is so excited to see one of my friends that she forgets herself in her eagerness to say hello. Sometimes she barks at the sound of my neighbor’s door closing, and sometimes she nips my toes in her eagerness to help me tug my socks off. She loves to sniff the ground, and she loves to play fetch with a ball. One time she pooped in a place she was not supposed to poop in, but no one is perfect, including my amazing canine partner.
CPL was very supportive when I had a terrible experience at an internship placement and the advised me on how to resolve issues after training. In fact, the first week after training, they wanted to hear from me every day. Then the checks went to once a week, and now I check in whenever I have an issue, question, or good report. The staff is very accessible, and they make me feel like I matter.
CPL has become a large part of my life. They offered hope to me. I now know what it’s like to have help laying at my feet waiting for the next thing. Myg irl loves to work, and she knows her stuff. Does she test me? Oh Yeah! You better believe it! She started testing me the day we started team training. Everyone knew that she was the dog who would not remain lying down for more than a moment. The staff encouraged and advised me. By the end of training, my dog had realized I would always correct her and she did not test as much.
I love the click and treat training method, and so does my dog. The prong collar is to be used for strict correction only, and it does not hurt the dog. It is simply a bit uncomfortable. Often times, I just have to hold the prong collar for my girl to know I mean business. The prongs never draw blood or even leave marks. In fact, I have felt what it it’s like for the prongs to press into my arm.
As for the story told by Anonymous about the executive director scolding her dog, I remember when this happened at my team training. The director’s dog had a very sensitive personality and would get spooked at small things. It was simply her personality to be sensitive to correction. The executive director’s dog did become nervous, but then relaxed when her human partner spent time petting and loving on her in order to demonstrate her love. The demonstration of correction certainly had no lasting effects on the dog and did not make the dog love the director any less. The dog was still overjoyed to work and to be with her partner.
CPL dogs love their jobs and their partners. They are still imperfect creatures, though. Just as you correct a child for misbehavior you need to correct a dog. Furthermore dogs will test you, sometimes right away. They are not robots, but they are wonderful. My dog’s tail is always wagging because of her joy to be alive and working. I look forward to the future with my dog by my side.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

My every day life and increased independence.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Tell more people about them.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

How did you find this group?

Through internet research

What, if any, change in your life has this group encouraged?

Increased independence, laughter, and joy!

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 1 stars  

4 people found this review helpful

I have been involved with Canine Partners for Life for several years. I have personally witnessed abusive training practices as well as severe misinformation being presented by the trainers during Team Training. I witnessed the Executive Director, Darlene Sullivan, use her personal service dog to demonstrate "how to give a proper correction" --she grabbed her dog's face and yelled at her --the dog was shaking with her tail tucked --she had done nothing wrong and would stand and shake when called for any subsequent demonstrations.

I witnessed the Executive Director lift a dog off the ground by her prong collar (all 4 paws) for eating
a muffin off of a chair. Clients were advised to harshly correct a growling dog by yanking on the prong collar and/or grabbing the dog's face and yelling. That is a good way to get bitten and just teaches the dog not to give a warning (growl), resulting in a higher risk of a bite without warning. Trainers told students to yank the prong collar if their dog would not retrieve --making training sessions stressful and causing several dogs to shut down.

Several dogs who barked and growled at other dogs/people/sounds (sound sensitivity/reactivity) were allowed to graduate. One dog who pooped on the train trip into Philadelphia (and subsequently had to wear a Thunder Shirt to calm him because he was so anxious) still was allowed to graduate --even though the dog was exhibiting severe stress signals when working in public. I saw another recipient's dog wearing a Thunder Shirt as well. A dog that has to wear a Thunder Shirt to function in public is not suited to be a service dog --the dog is stressed and anxious and it is cruel to make the dog work. Anyone with a basic knowledge of dog psychology and training would know how to read dogs' body language for signs of stress/agitation and would not choose to flood the dog (force it to work without taking steps for desensitization), which causes more problems and doesn't fix the underlying issues.

In a past graduating class, a dog developed seizures during Team Training and the team was still allowed to graduate and go home without knowing if medicine was effective or not.

Canine Partners for Life is not an organization I can in good conscience recommend to anyone. They use outdated and inhumane training methods and allow unsuitable dogs to graduate from their
program, which does not paint a good picture for other service dog teams and organizations.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

A little

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

No

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Badly

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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amjk94life (Nonprofit Staff) wrote:

If someone has a question or concern about the Canine Partners for Life (CPL) program, we are more than willing to address it on an individual basis. In this instance, however, since the reviewer chooses not to use his/her real name, we do not know how or even if they have ever been associated with CPL, either as a program participant or as a volunteer. Therefore we do not know what this review is based on and are unable to respond directly to this individual. At CPL we take our commitment to our dogs and our program participants very seriously. We were one of the first organizations to be accredited by Assistance Dogs International (ADI), the worldwide governing body for service dog organizations. ADI has developed very strict criteria for the care and training of dogs in service programs, which is why being accredited by them is so important. CPL meets the ADI’s criteria and very often exceeds them. Thank you.

Rating: 5 stars  

I received my seizure alert/ medical response dog from Canine Partners for Life 3 years ago. My dog Dreyfus is part of a corp of medical alert dogs trained by CPL to harness their natural ability to predict medical events before they occur....each of these special dogs is a star in their own right! My beautiful Standard Poodle alerts to my many seizures 47 minutes in advance Dreyfus is 100% accurate! CPL has given ME my independence back! Last year I suffered a major stroke. Dreyfus, my superior trained CPL service dog, dialed 911 for me on his special phone. I have been told that because of the quick actions of my service dog that day that I AM STILL ALIVE. That never stops impacting me. If you are looking at this site for the first time, looking for a place to donate money, let me encourage you to donate here. The staff, trainers, and Darlene made my service dog possible for me. Along with many, many donors. And a lot of hours on the trainers and staffs part that they dedicate to make sure that we are all successful -They have a great follow up program for all the graduates, that is where Dreyfus learned how to use the phone that saved my life. I guess they did a good job, because of their support a dog like Dreyfus can push a button that can save a person like me.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Role: Client Served
Rating: 5 stars  

I received a seizure alert dog in July 2011. Anonymous seems to have a special vendetta against CPL. The three weeks I attended classes I saw no abuse of any kind. My trainer and others involved with me always showed the utmost concern for the dogs. Not to mention the applicants. I have also returned for graduate support classes and CPL still maintains the highest standards. Without my wonderfuI dog, I would never have regained some of my independence. She has been a lifesaver.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I sat here after reading anonymous review about Canine Partner for Life, out of Cochranville, PA! I like many others am a recipient of CPL's, not only 1 service dog, but 2. My 1st dog I went thru class with back in 2003, and my successor dog in 2007; so I have spent a total of 6 training weeks on that campus.(and hundreds of hours there visiting, volunteering , supporting other classes, etc) Let me tell you , I have NEVER seen any type of rough training, let alone abuse of any dogs, yes corrections, but certainly NOTHING that needed to be reported. Trust me as big of a dog lover as I am if I had seen it, I personally would not only have reported it, I would have opened my mouth to whom ever I saw doing it. I feel the click n treat method that they use is such a humane way to teach the wonderful dogs what we need them to do, but no they are NOT robots MISS ANONYMOUS, and yes, they do make mistakes, and need stern vocal corrections, or what I call that mom's voice as needed. As far as a growling dog, and testing not occurring obviously you have very little experience in even pet training Ma'am, they will test you from a pup on up til the day they pass on, and with the intelligence that these dogs have, even more so; thinking perhaps this dog was smarter than it's 2nd recipient and could have been a good judge of personality?? Yes CPL has at times had dogs not work out with matches for one reason or another, mostly it's due to issues with recipients, bit off more than they could handle, health issues worsening, and even when they can't handle the dog, it can happen but I can tell you that if you were to look at statistics I bet you would find that they have one of the highest success rates in placements and teams that stayed together! I mean after all it is like a marriage of sorts if you think about it. As for wanting reimbursed your money, if I were you, I would stop spending less time online slandering a wonderful organization that has changed so many peoples lives and go find a part time job and earn that $1000 back if you miss it so much ma'am, or if you work already do some OT. For folks reading these reviews, I do agree with this person about one thing in her entire review.......do your research, as I did, and as you do I know you will read and see about the support, professionalism of this organization and family that is gained, our CPL family, that each and every one of us have truly come to love, well most of us. Sincerely, A very PLEASE CPL recipient!

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

Was this review helpful?