Winona is a pure black Labrador Retriever, who was born on September 11, 2014. She weighs about 54 pounds and has beautiful black coat which shines in the sunlight as well as a white patch on her chest. She was breed by Canine Companion for Independence (CCI), a charitable organization that provides service dogs to individuals with disabilities free of charge.
To reduce the cost, puppies are raised by puppy raiser for 16-18 months. In Winona's case that was Comfort Canines for Christ directors John and Jane O'Flynn who raised her in their home from 8 weeks of age till she was 20 months old. In that time Winona was trained in thirty commands. She was returned to CCI on May 14, 2016 to begin a six months advance training to qualify as a service dog. Unfortunately Winona exhibited a condition where she was frighten by thunder. This fear/anxiety is a very serious problem for a service dog, a person with a disability depends on that dog functioning in all types of environments. As a result she was released from the advance training and the CCI program. As the puppy raisers for Winona, John and Jane had the option to adopt her and take her home as a pet or allow her to be adopted by someone else. The decision was easy. ADOPTION! A quick trip was made to Orlando to picked her up from CCI. She is now a member of the O'Flynn family and a Comfort Canines for Christ Ambassador.
Prior to Winona being returned to CCI, she worked in the capacity as a therapy/comfort dog with CCC. This activity help Winona's socialization skills and provided CCC with a second dog. She is well trained and is very sensitive to the moods of people.
When removed from the CCI program she turned in her blue CCI vest for a yellow Comfort Canines for Christ vest. She began her service with Comfort Canines for Christ immediately upon returning home to Ponchatoula, La. Although Winona has an anxiety issue, she is quite qualified to be part of the Comfort Canines for Christ ministry team. God has a way of using the imperfect, even a dog with an anxiety issue, to do mighty things. We trust God to use Winona in ministering to hundreds and hundreds of people.
Winona is certified through the AKC "Canine Good Citizen" testing which basically identified that the dog is trained and is under the total control of the handler. In addition she has achieved an "Advance Therapy Dog" recognition which requires a minimum of 100 visits to locations where she provides therapy.