P.V. program trains assistance dogs in 90 commands - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

P.V. program trains assistance dogs in 90 commands

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Posted: Friday, July 14, 2006 10:54 am | Updated: 3:20 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

The 5-year-old golden retriever jumped up and used his front paws to push open the auditorium door at the Paradise Valley Police Department.

“Good boy, Frasier,” trainer Cindy Abels said as the dog gobbled up a treat from her hand.

Opening doors is just one of Frasier’s tricks. He can also turn on and off the lights, retrieve utensils from drawers and even identify flash cards.

Frasier is one of the trained assistance dogs for the Scottsdale-based Power Paws assistance program that trains at the Paradise Valley Police Department.

Scottsdale resident Robyn Abels and her daughter started the program five years ago.

Today, one of the assistance dogs will be showing off its talents on the baseball field when it delivers the first pitch at Chase Field in Phoenix for Service Dog Awareness night.

A portion of the ticket sales will be going to the nonprofit Power Paws and other service dog organizations.

Since the Abels’ program began, they have placed 25 Labrador and golden retrievers with disabled clients.

“They’re trained in 90 commands,” Robyn Abels said. “They can retrieve dropped items and open the refrigerator and take something out and hand it to the person. They generally make things a little easier for their owners.”

Six months ago, Robyn Abels approached the Paradise Valley Police Department about training the dogs in its auditorium.

“The training that occurs here is when they are first paired up with a client,” said police Chief John Wintersteen.

“This is the first time for the human with a handicap and the dog to get to know each other and learn to work together as a team.”

The first batch of trainees graduated last month from the program. More than 30 dogs in training will soon be introduced to their new owners there.

“We have a great community here in Paradise Valley that supports a lot of things that are a little bit unusual,” Wintersteen said.

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