Sunday, April 19, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Dog in training: Neffa ‘graduates’ to next level

By
From page A1 | July 03, 2012 |

Karey Zufelt, left, and Mikaela Zufelt pose with Neffa before sending him off to "college" to compete his Canine Campions for Independence training. The mother-daughter duo have raised Neffa since he was puppy, knowing this day would come. Wayne Tilcock/Enterprise photo

* Editor’s note: This is the last in a series about Davis resident Mikaela Zufelt’s experience training an assistance dog. Earlier stories describing Neffa’s training were published in December and April.

On May 18, Neffa went off to college.

Neffa’s experience won’t involve dorms, midterm exams and football games. Instead, the Canine Companions for Independence dog-in-training left his Davis foster home for advanced training, called “college,” at CCI headquarters in preparation for his future as an assistance dog.

The milestone completed a large part of the training journey for Neffa, a black Labrador who is now 18 months old and weighs 76 pounds.

“It’s bittersweet … but mostly sweet,” said his puppy raiser, Mikaela Zufelt, a senior at Davis High School. Mikaela raised and trained Neffa since he was 8 weeks old.

“Because I’ve seen the positive effect Deckle (the first puppy Mikaela raised for CCI) has had, Neffa will be easier, but we’re going to miss him so much,” Mikaela said before sending Neffa off to “college.”

“You do it for the next step,” said Karey Zufelt, Mikaela’s mother. “That’s the hard part, but if you go to graduation, you’d change your opinion.

“A lot of people could be puppy raisers. It takes a large amount of time and commitment, but the rewards are greater than you could ever imagine. Everyone’s lives change.”

Added Mikaela, “It’s going to be tough, but exciting.”

The graduation ceremony took place in Santa Rosa, where CCI headquarters are located.

“All the dogs being turned in (to headquarters) walk across the stage and get medals, which represents moving on to the next phase of training,” Karey said.

Neffa went back to CCI headquarters knowing a vast catalog of commands, including “sit,” “let’s go,” “wait,” “hurry,” “heel,” “under,” “shake” and “stay.”

“He’s been in a lot of different places: barns, horse shows, hospitals, malls, stores, parks, elevators, elderly facilities, the library, doctor’s appointments, the dentist, kindergarten classes, the airport, band concerts, the Farmers Market,” Karey said.

Much of Neffa’s latter training involved solidifying commands he already knew so he could stay focused on his handler and perform well in difficult situations.

“We try to take him to places where there’s lots of people,” Mikaela said. “When there’s noise, energy, distraction, everything gets more complex. We expect them to behave well.”

In comparison to his younger puppy days, “he handles distracting situations a lot better,” she added.

Picnic Day, farm animals, loud football games? No sweat. Neffa’s been there.

“Overall, he’s a really willing dog,” Mikaela said. “He wants to work, which is good for us to see. He’s a pretty mellow dog. He’s always had a good attitude. He makes us proud.”

Neffa also headed to Santa Rosa with a solid grasp on manners, an important asset for a future working dog.

“The house manners is a big thing,” Karey said. “Part of our job is to teach manners.”

Neffa was taught to never jump on furniture or counters, while the Zufelts’ pet Labrador, Bumper, could.

“It’s really good training,” Karey said. “These dogs are born and raised to be working dogs. This is what makes this type of dog happy.”

After being turned in to the headquarters, the dogs go to professional trainers for advanced training and learn additional commands for six to nine months.

At any point, the dogs may be released for a number of reasons. For example, a dog could be too distracted or fearful to be able to do the work required of them. A dog might have too strong a drive for prey or chase, or a low work ethic, or physical problems such as heart problems or skin problems.

Released dogs commonly go on to other forms of service, such as search and rescue or other types of therapy. In a reflection of the tough standards required by CCI, the high rate of release and the further service of these dogs, releasing is called a “change of career,” Karey said.

The dogs go through two semesters of professional training. They learn ambulatory skills, such as retrieving objects that are large, as well as those that are very small, such as coins. The dogs learn to place the object on the wheelchair user’s lap.

The trainers begin to adapt basic commands, learned from puppy raisers, to the needs of the person in the wheelchair.

For example, “dogs can perform tasks such as opening the fridge, getting a Gatorade, closing the fridge, and giving it to their receiver,” Mikaela said. “Precision is key.”

During advanced training, the dogs also are selected for various specializations. Dogs can become service, skilled companion or facility dogs, and training differs for some of these animals.

For example, hearing dogs — who work with the hearing-impaired — work on recognizing alerts, such as cell phone ring tones, email alerts, alarms and watches.

In the six to nine months during which the dogs receive additional training, the puppy raisers get monthly progress reports on the dog they raised. However, they are not allowed to see the dog.

Two weeks before final graduation, the receivers of the dogs go through a two-week training process. There is a day to find matches. They then work with the match, and learn how to care for their new assistance dog and how to live with the dog.

“They estimate $10,000 goes into each dog by the time they graduate,” Karey said.

However, the dogs are free of charge for the receiver, who also will have a lifetime of support from CCI. Anyone who wants a dog can apply, said Karey, who added: “An application is not a commitment.”

Six months after the dog has gone to its receiver, the puppy raisers are able to visit the dog they raised in its working home.

“With Deckle, I didn’t even really recognize him,” said Mikaela, who raised her first puppy when she was 13 years old. “He’d filled out and matured so much.”

Both Mikaela and Karey plan to continue being puppy raisers. Karey may train a puppy after Mikaela leaves for college, and Mikaela plans to train another puppy after she finishes college.

“We would like to encourage people to become puppy raisers,” Karey said. “You get to meet a lot of people you’d never think you’d meet.”

“There is a lot of support and there are a lot of people to help. There are so many ‘what if’s, but they can all be answered with the support system,” Mikaela said.

For more information on Canine Companions for Independence, visit www.cci.org.

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Aggie Pride on parade at UC Davis Picnic Day

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    City wants a study of sewer rates

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

    Hard-of-hearing student needs community’s help

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    KDVS fund drive includes on-air pledging, plus parties and food

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
     
    Art helped sell California’s agriculture

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Sign up now for Celebrate Davis!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4Comments are off for this post

    Students, families can get after-hours Internet access

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Lawyers seek resolution to Davis molest case

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A4

    Garamendi hosts conference for women

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    ‘Invaluable public servant’ retires after 20 years

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Your brain’s aging and a new report urges ways to stay sharp

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

     
    Injury-proof yourself for effective exercise

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

    Understanding risks can help women prevent leading health threats

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    Get some advice at Connections Café

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Eyewitness speaks about Israel’s election

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

     
    Free gardening advice offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Grad Night tickets on sale online

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Schenker speaks about ‘Magical Mexico’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Yolo County DA honors crime victims at annual tribute

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

    Holman offers Publishing 101 seminar

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Radio-controlled airplanes will race April 25-26

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Vote with your dollars at Davis Food Co-op

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    Woodland bike rides set every Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Join the 10,000-vegetable challenge!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9Comments are off for this post

     
    NAMI group offers family support

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    Birding tour will benefit Putah Creek Council

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10 | Gallery

     
    Watershed Wonders activities return to Putah Creek

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    Yolo County Neighborhood Court seeks new volunteers

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

     
    UCD looks at building a better brain as we age

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    ‘Vault’ highlights ‘Kathak’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    Two drought-preparedness water bills pass out of Senate committees

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

    Picnic Day favorites: dogs, bikes science

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A13 | Gallery

     
    Strike up the band, and the bubbles!

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A14 | Gallery

    .

    Forum

    Ready for the parting glass

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
     
    John Cole cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B6

    Yolo Crisis Nursery still needs help

    By Our View | From Page: B6

     
    Drink up, kids, but make your choice a healthy one

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B6

    Leash your dogs; it’s the law

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: B6

     
    Speak out

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: B7

    Let’s not turn our backs on the Earth

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B7

     
    This Earth Day, make a pledge to cool your home

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B7

    .

    Sports

    Fast Aggie start negated by 14-0 USC lacrosse run

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Stagnant second-half offense sinks Devil girls

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Over the hump? DHS baseball team wins late

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Lambdin, Marshall lead Aggies at Mt. SAC

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Republic FC gets another win at Bonney

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B2

     
    UCD roundup: Aggies sweep a water polo double dip

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Busy Clancy, Hall spark Devil tracksters at Mt. SAC

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

     
    Former DHS star Drexel returns to create havoc for Aggies

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B4 | Gallery

    Pro baseball roundup: Oakland blanks Kansas City

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B14

     
    Sports briefs: Blue Devils split a pair of tennis matches

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B14 | Gallery

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    .

    Business

    New phase opens at Brookfield Cottages

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

     
    Tucos closes; new Japanese, pizza, subs debut

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A12 | Gallery

    WISH grant funds available to eligible homebuyers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12

     
    Marrone Bio Innovations strengthens its sales team

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12

    .

    Obituaries

    Alice Catherine Micheltorena

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Jody Zewe

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Herman Timm

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Ruth Rodenbeck Stumpf

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Robert Leigh Cordrey

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, April 19, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B8