Chester County nonprofit offers dog lovers an opportunity to give back

Tamala Edwards Image
Thursday, February 8, 2024
Art of Aging: Chester County nonprofit offers dog lovers an opportunity to give back
Chester County nonprofit Canine Partners for Life offers dog lovers an opportunity to give back.

COCHRANVILLE, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Dogs may be known as 'man's best friend,' but at Canine Partners for Life, the pups are trained to serve as much more.

Janie Cramer has served as the executive director for the last five years.

"The mission for Canine Partners for Life is to increase independence and the quality of life of individuals with physical, developmental and cognitive disabilities and others in situations of need," says Cramer.

Cramer originally started with the nonprofit as a volunteer 18 years ago.

"We raise service dogs from birth. They are born here," she says. "We use Goldens. We use Labs. We use a cross between Goldens and Labs. We do have Poodles and Labradoodles in our program."

Right now, Cramer cares for Fausta.

"She had three litters of puppies and now she has transformed into our demonstration dog," she says.

Michael Flick, an 11-year volunteer, is training Ilya one-on-one so he can be matched with an applicant.

"Just working with the dogs and seeing how they progress with their skills, it gives me a lot of satisfaction," says Flick.

The nonprofit is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.

"Volunteers are the backbone to this organization. We have so many different roles that they fulfill," says Cramer.

"You start out walking dogs and cuddling dogs, and you progress to more field trips," says Flick.

Flick also works with a trainer to fine tune the skills the dog might need to aid his future partner. These skills could include helping someone retrieve items off the floor or having the dog feel comfortable walking next to a shopping cart or wheelchair.

"We have a harness that we use for individuals that need balance and support," says Cramer.

Some are placed as full-service dogs, while others become companion dogs.

"They're a really good friend to a young person with disabilities or an elderly couple," says Cramer.

"I just find it very rewarding," says Flick. "He'll be a good companion for somebody."

"It really changes people's lives," says Cramer.

For more information:

Canine Partners for Life:

Become A Volunteer: