Long Island

Medford's Canine Companions for Independence assist disabled

Nick Tyler, 20, of Brick, N.J., who has

Nick Tyler, 20, of Brick, N.J., who has cerebral palsy, greets Ditto, a retriever that may become his canine helper. Canine Companions for Independence, at their facility in Medford, trains dogs for their disabled owners. (Aug 7, 2013) Photo Credit: Newsday / Jeffrey Basinger

Since it opened in 1989, Canine Companions for Independence's northeast regional center in Medford has placed more than 600 assistance dogs with people who have physical and psychosocial disabilities. On Wednesday, 10 children and adults finally reached the top of a yearlong waitlist to take home a 2-year-old golden retriever, a black Labrador or golden lab mixed-breed at the end of next week.

Ilene Degregorio, 56, of Staten Island, gets acquainted
Photo Credit: Newsday / Jeffrey Basinger

Ilene Degregorio, 56, of Staten Island, gets acquainted with Alpha, a retriever and lab mix that may become her helper dog. Canine Companions for Independence, at their facility in Medford, trains dogs for their disabled owners. (Aug 7, 2013)

Frankie Cavalli, 11, of Plainview, gets acquainted with
Photo Credit: Newsday / Jeffrey Basinger

Frankie Cavalli, 11, of Plainview, gets acquainted with Schaffer, a golden retriever and lab mix that may become his dog. Canine Companions for Independence, at their facility in Medford, trains dogs for their disabled owners. (Aug 7, 2013)

Frankie Cavalli, 11, of Plainview, gets acquainted with
Photo Credit: Newsday / Jeffrey Basinger

Frankie Cavalli, 11, of Plainview, gets acquainted with Schaffer, a golden retriever and lab mix that may become his dog. Canine Companions for Independence, at their facility in Medford, trains dogs for their disabled owners. (Aug 7, 2013)

Kirk, a well-trained canine companion, demonstrates his ability
Photo Credit: Newsday / Jeffrey Basinger

Kirk, a well-trained canine companion, demonstrates his ability to turn off a wall light, with the verbal command "switch." Canine Companions for Independence, at their facility in Medford, trains dogs for their disabled owners. (Aug 7, 2013)

Nick Tyler, 20, of Brick, N.J., who has
Photo Credit: Newsday / Jeffrey Basinger

Nick Tyler, 20, of Brick, N.J., who has cerebral palsy, greets Ditto, a retriever that may become his canine helper. Canine Companions for Independence, at their facility in Medford, trains dogs for their disabled owners. (Aug 7, 2013)

Ilene Degregorio, 56, of Staten Island, gets acquainted
Photo Credit: Newsday / Jeffrey Basinger

Ilene Degregorio, 56, of Staten Island, gets acquainted with Alpha, a retriever and lab mix that may become her helper dog. Canine Companions for Independence, at their facility in Medford, trains dogs for their disabled owners. (Aug. 7, 2013)

Frankie Cavalli, 11, of Plainview, gets acquainted with
Photo Credit: Newsday/Jeffrey Basinger

Frankie Cavalli, 11, of Plainview, gets acquainted with Schaffer, a golden retriever and lab mix that may become his dog. Canine Companions for Independence, at their facility in Medford, trains dogs for their disabled owners. (Aug. 7, 2013)

Dog training commands displayed on the wall of
Photo Credit: Newsday / Jeffrey Basinger

Dog training commands displayed on the wall of a training room at Canine Companions for Independence. CCI trains dogs for disabled owners, at their facility in Medford. (Aug. 7, 2013)

Amy Simurra, of Westchester, greets Putty, a lab-retriever
Photo Credit: Newsday / Jeffrey Basinger

Amy Simurra, of Westchester, greets Putty, a lab-retriever mix that may become her personal helper. Canine Companions for Independence, at their facility in Medford, trains dogs for their disabled owners. (Aug. 7, 2013)

Brendan Villespie, 8, of Massapequa Park, and his
Photo Credit: Newsday / Jeffrey Basinger

Brendan Villespie, 8, of Massapequa Park, and his mom Jenn, greet Fenway, a lab-retriever mix that may become Brendan's personal helper. Canine Companions for Independence, at their facility in Medford, trains dogs for their disabled owners. (Aug. 7, 2013)

Debbie-Hart Bowley, 59, and her husband Joe, greet
Photo Credit: Newsday / Jeffrey Basinger

Debbie-Hart Bowley, 59, and her husband Joe, greet their new helper dog, to assist with Debbie's neurological movement disorder. Canine Companions for Independence, at their facility in Medford, trains dogs for their disabled owners. (Aug. 7, 2013)

Sara Keedy, 21, of West Virginia, came to
Photo Credit: Newsday / Jeffrey Basinger

Sara Keedy, 21, of West Virginia, came to Canine Companions for Independence to meet and train her new helper dog. Canine Companions for Independence, at their facility in Medford, trains dogs for their disabled owners. (Aug. 7, 2013)

Allyson Martin, 27, of Lindenhurst, greets Daton, a
Photo Credit: Newsday / Jeffrey Basinger

Allyson Martin, 27, of Lindenhurst, greets Daton, a golden retriever that may become her personal helper dog. Canine Companions for Independence, at their facility in Medford, trains dogs for their disabled owners. (Aug. 7, 2013)

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