Kathi meets Kathi

A traditional charity check presentation at the Aug. 13 Chester County Commissioners’ public sunshine meeting included an element of surprise for one commissioner. As part of the recognition of Chester County non-profit Canine Partners for Life, Commissioners Michelle Kichline and Terence Farrell presented fellow Commissioner Kathi Cozzone with a service puppy named in her honor to recognize the tremendous service she has provided to the people of Chester County.

Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone meets a future service dog named Kathi in honor of the commissioner.

Commissioners’ Chair Michelle Kichline said, “Every year we set aside funds to present to worthy Chester County non-profits, both collectively as the three commissioners, and individually. One of my selected charities this year is Canine Partners forLife, a Cochranville-based organization that trains service and companion dogs for individuals with physical, developmental and cognitive disabilities.

“When I contacted the organization to confirm the $1,000 donation, I found out that with the donation came the opportunity to name a puppy that would eventually be trained for service. I have always admired Kathi’s personal commitment to service so thought it would be fitting to give the puppy – and future service dog – the name Kathi in her honor. When I mentioned the idea to Terence, he was totally on board.”

Commissioner Terence Farrell added:  “The foundation of Canine Partners for Life is service, and the dogs certainly help to improve the quality of life for their owners.  In her 12 years as a Commissioner, Kathi Cozzone has professionally – and personally – served our citizens by championing great causes, investing in crucial county programs, and leading many state-wide initiatives, all that improve the quality of life of everyone living and working in Chester County.

“When it comes to her namesake, Kathi the puppy has a lot to live up to,” added Farrell.

Three-month old puppy Kathi will go through two full years of training with Canine Partners for Life to become a service or companion dog.  Her first full year, led by volunteers, is focused on learning basic obedience skills and being socialized in many public environments so that she becomes familiar and comfortable with different sights, sounds and smells.  She will spend a few months in a community volunteer home and a few months in one of the prisons that participates in the Prison Puppy Raising program.  At 14 months, Kathi will return to the Canine Partners for Life kennel to learn more advanced service skills including retrieving items, opening and closing doors and paying cashiers.

Janie Cramer, executive director of Canine Partners for Life, thanked the commissioners for the donation and noted the different pathways open to puppy Kathi as she goes through the two years of training.

“In her second year, we will determine whether Kathi will become a service or companion dog,” said Cramer.  All of our service dogs are placed with individuals who have physical or cognitive disabilities so in addition to the more ‘traditional’ service dog functions, we train seizure alert, cardiac alert and diabetes alert dogs. Our companion dogs are often placed with young children who have down syndrome or autism, but they can also be placed with an elderly individual or as a courthouse or residential companion.”

After being presented with the surprise, Commissioner Kathi Cozzone commented, “I am very honored and surprised – it was such a beautiful thing for Michelle and Terence to do.

“I am a dog lover, and who doesn’t love a puppy?  So to have one named after me who will be of service to someone in the future is very special.”

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