Pacific Beach youngster raising funds for Canine Companions for Independence
Published - 10/31/16 - 04:44 PM | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Connor with Jinxy and mom Dana and dad Dylan.
Connor with Jinxy and mom Dana and dad Dylan.
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Connor Vaughn, of Pacific Beach, is a 7-year-old boy with blonde, wispy hair and a wide grin. Jinxy is a 2-year-old Golden Retriever that is happiest with her best friend. The two seem to match, on the outside and inside.

“Jinxy just loves to snuggle with Connor,” says his mother, Dana, choking back a tear. “It’s wonderful to see them together. She makes Connor so happy and feel so confident!”

Dana’s emotion comes from joy, gratitude and relief. Connor is not an ordinary kid and Jinxy is not an ordinary dog. Connor has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and Jinxy is an assistance dog, provided free of charge by Canine Companions for Independence. Canine Companions is a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships.

The two were paired up last May, and Jinxy’s companionship has been significant for Connor. She has been so life-changing that Connor has decided to give back to Jinxy’s alma mater. So far, he has raised $2,500 through DogFest San Diego, a walk and festival held Oct. 29 in Liberty Station (www.cci.org/dogfestsandiego).

Connor’s disability makes him different from his peers. He can’t do all of the typical activities of boys his age. Jinxy helps close that gap. “Jinxy provides a great way to introduce new people to Connor’s disability,“ says Dylan, his father. “It’s a good, positive way to start talking about why he’s different.”

Dana continues, “Jinxy gives a common ground for Connor to start talking to people in social situations. She’s a good friend and companion that is with him all of the time.”

That includes when Connor is getting medical treatments and therapies, as well as when he just needs a friend.

On top of that, Jinxy can help Connor with practical tasks like getting dressed and undressed, and tugging doors and drawers open.

“I will never forget when, during the first few days of training at Canine Companions, they brought Jinxy up to Connor and they started snuggling,” recalls Dylan. “Connor said, ‘I want to do this forever!’ My heart melted and I just felt like this is the exact, perfect thing that we could be doing for Connor.”

Connor, Dana, Dylan and Jinxy graduated together after completing an intense, residential, two-week Team Training course at Canine Companions’ Southwest Regional Center in Oceanside.

During Team Training, students are strategically matched with assistance dogs and learn how to work with them safely and effectively. The dogs are trained in about 40 commands to help with everyday practical tasks before they are ready to graduate as 24/7 helpers. Thanks to Canine Companions’ generous supporters, the dogs, their training and ongoing follow-up support are provided free of charge.

Visit kmalatino@cci.org for more information on Canine Companions.
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