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Canine Companions For Independence To March In Presidential Inaugural Parade

Not-For-Proft Providing Service Dogs Rewarded For Its Service To Long Island
This service dog from Canine Companions for Independence will march in the inaugural parade in Washington D.C., on Jan. 21, 2013.

This service dog from Canine Companions for Independence will march in the inaugural parade in Washington D.C., on Jan. 21, 2013.

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MEDFORD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — All eyes will be on Pennsylvania Avenue in our nation’s capital on Monday for the inaugural parade. And some of the parade marchers will be walking on four legs.

They are canine companions from Long Island and beyond, CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Friday.

“Buffy,” a 2-year-old Labrador retriever, is weeks away from becoming a canine companion.

“They can actually pick up anything on the floor – a credit card, a pen, if you drop medicine. They can open and close doors. They can turn on and off light switches,” Laura Ann Dubecky said.

Soon Buffy will devote her life to helping a person with a disability. While she’s in training, the volunteers who raised her are heading to Washington. Puppy raisers like Cathy McComas and their faithful friends will march in the inaugural parade.

“’Emmet’ is going with us and my husband is going as well, so he’s going to be traveling five hours in a truck and staying in a hotel. So that’s going to be very exciting for him,” McComas said.

Canine Companions for Independence in Medford was selected from 2,800 not-for-profit organizations. It will be among only 43 to strut up Pennsylvania Avenue on Monday, but the only ones with tails wagging. Sixty Labs and golden retrievers and their volunteers trainers and companions are invited, a real pat on the back for an organization that graduates 250 service dogs per year.

“They work hard. They enjoy their work and they are best friends to their companions,” Canine Companions’ Debra Dougherty said.

The theme of the inaugural weekend is service and honors programs like Canine Companions. “Romo” is 8 weeks old and just starting his training. In two and half years, if he makes the cut, he’ll have a full-time job as a service dog.

The 60 dogs will be welcomed at D.C. museums, hotels and restaurants. By law, service dogs are allowed everywhere there’s public access. They’re even invited to an inaugural ball — and some will be sporting bow ties.

The service dogs will be donning their capes in the parade and will be walking alongside a giant inflatable dog named “Independence.”

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