By Peri Podratz
contributing writer 

Kern County Canine Companions Chapter welcomes new puppies


April 27, 2024


Vinnie and Dane at puppy class.

Canine Companions is a national nonprofit organization committed to providing service dogs to people with disabilities at no charge to the recipients. With six regional training centers and subsequent chapters, Canine Companions has trained and placed over 7,700 service dogs.

The Kern County Volunteer Chapter of Canine Companions, located in Tehachapi, welcomes their newest puppies Vinnie and Dane! Since its formation in 2011, it is the chapter's job to socialize and train the puppies over a course of a year before sending them to professional training. Vinnie and Dane have started their journey at 8 weeks old to become highly trained service dogs. Vinnie, in the care of Chapter Leader Krista Tidd, is now 3 months old, and getting ready to take his first public outing at 4 months. Dane, now 5 months and in the care of Puppy Class Leader Melissa Billingsley, has been going to restaurants, stores, schools and even the vet where he works. It is their job to prepare the young puppies for anything by exposing them to different environments. As they grow older, you may see their yellow future service dog capes on some campuses of the Tehachapi Unified School District.

Over the next 18 months, these volunteer puppy raisers will teach their puppies over 40 basic commands like speak, heel, side, wait and many more. After that, Vinnie and Dane will be headed off to "college" at one of the regional centers for more specialized training. After six more months, Vinnie and Dane could become Service Dogs for adults and children; Facility Dogs; Service Dogs for veterans and even Therapy Dogs. You can follow along with your local puppies on their Facebook group page: Kern County Volunteer Chapter- Canine Companions.

The Kern County Volunteer Chapter has now raised over 35 puppies for Canine Companions and are always looking for more volunteers to raise that number. If you would like to become a Puppy Raiser, visit for more information.


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