A special canine companion for an exceptional Sahuarita girl - Tucson News Now

A special canine companion for an exceptional Sahuarita girl

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Hamako, Skylar and her mom Dana (Source: Canine Companions for Independence) Hamako, Skylar and her mom Dana (Source: Canine Companions for Independence)
Skylar and Hamako (Source: Canine Companions for Independence) Skylar and Hamako (Source: Canine Companions for Independence)
Skylar and Hamako (Source: Canine Companions for Independence) Skylar and Hamako (Source: Canine Companions for Independence)
Skylar and Hamako (Source: Canine Companions for Independence) Skylar and Hamako (Source: Canine Companions for Independence)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

ASahuarita girl recently received a special gift - a dog - but Hamako is not anordinary pet, she is an assistance dog from Canine Companions for Independence(CCI).   

Skylar inmost ways is a typical 9-year-old, she loves swimming, walking and campingespecially when it involves smores, but she has one limitation - she hascerebral palsy.  This limits many ofSkylar's physical activities, she isn't able to participate with many of herpeers; however, her disability often has a social impact too. Hamako helps withthis task, often breaking the ice for Skylar when children focus more on whatshe can't do, as opposed to what she can do. 

"Hamakohelps in those social situations where kids don't understand Skylar for who sheis," said her mom Dana, in a recent news release.  "Hamako breaks the ice.  Kids see the dog instead of focusing onSkylar's disability." 

Accordingto the Canine Companions release, Hamako is being integrated into Skylar'stherapies and is often a 'welcome distraction' when her exercises areuncomfortable. 

"Hamako is a great motivator during occupational and physical therapy,"explains Dana. "She's even helping Skylar reach her speech goals through herdesire to give Hamako commands."

Not only is Hamako Skylar's service dog, she is her companion, a 'built inbest friend' as Skylar's mother put it. She knew that the pair was a match made in heaven, when immediatelyafter finding out which dog would be Skylar's, Hamako cuddled up next to Skylarand gave her kisses. 

"Ever since Hamako is always in-tune with Skylar," said Dana.  "She's always checking on her.  With any noise Hamako is right there."

The trio recently graduated from a two week team training course, at the CCIcenter in Oceanside, California.  It wasduring this training that students are matched with their service companions,learning to work together safely and effectively.  Each dog, training and follow up support areoffered free of charge to students, thanks in part to generous supporters of CCI.

For more information on CCI please go online to www.cci.orgor call 1-800-572-BARK.

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