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Canine Assistants helps pair dog, girl

Tig donated by Wells Fargo

Kristen Lewis, left, an attorney with Smith, Gambrell and Russell and a volunteer with Canine Assistants, sits with Adriene and her new service dog Tig, as well as Wells Fargo employee Vicki Akins during the Canine Assistants training camp graduation ceremony held in Milton. Tig was donated as a puppy to Canine Assistants by Wells Fargo a year ago and will now provide care and companionship to Adriene. (click for larger version)
June 01, 2011
MILTON, Ga. – Tig has found her life's calling.

Donated as a puppy a year ago to Milton-based Canine Assistants by Wells Fargo, Tig was officially matched at a graduation ceremony with Adriene, a young woman from Huntington, W.Va.

Adriene lives with her parents, a brother and two sisters. She was born with multiple disabilities, which make it difficult for her to do the things other girls take for granted. She wears a leg brace, and uses a walker and wheelchair for mobility. She likes to swim, watch her siblings' ball games and go shopping. She loves school, attending classes at church and spending time with her family.

Tig was bred to become a Canine Assistants service dog and help someone like Adriene. Like other service dogs that graduated recently, she will take care of basic needs for Adriene by doing things like retrieving dropped items, opening and closing doors, turning lights on and off, pressing elevator buttons, pulling her wheelchair and assisting her with balance while walking. She will also provide secure companionship.

Wells Fargo sponsored two Canine Assistants dogs, both half Labrador and half Golden Retriever, at $20,000 each, in honor of the introduction to Atlanta of a specialty practice that assists children and adults living with disabilities. The other dog is Jack, who is still in training.

Tig and Jack are named for dogs with historic significance to Wells Fargo. During the 19th century, the company used guard dogs when it was transporting money, and Jack was a popular name for the canines.

Tig is short for Tiger, and was the nickname of a dog that died in the line of duty in a fire.

"We are so very proud of Tig," said Mamie Kneller, a senior vice president with Wells Fargo Private Bank in Atlanta. "We know she'll take good care of Adriene in the Wells Fargo tradition of taking good care of people and customers. And we know that Jack will be just as special as Tig."

Kneller, based in Atlanta, has been a trust advisor for more than 20 years specializing in special needs trust administration.

She is part of Wells Fargo Private Bank's Special Needs Trust Group, which, serving as trustee, helps with a full range of life-enhancing services for beneficiaries with special needs.

Kneller and Kristen Lewis, an attorney with Smith, Gambrell and Russell and a Canine Assistants volunteer, brought Wells Fargo and Canine Assistants together.

"We are so thankful for Tig. She has already proved to be a very loving and affectionate dog," said Adriene's parents Scot and Shellie. "She will be Adriene's best friend...exactly what we were looking for. We know that Tig will make Adriene's life that much brighter. Our thanks to Wells Fargo and Canine Assistants."

"This is what Canine Assistants is all about," said Jennifer Arnold, the group's founder, who was also present at the graduation. "When you see the magical bond that has already formed, you know that what Tig will bring to Adriene will be a life-improving experience going beyond the tasks that Tig will perform every day. We truly wish them all the best."

Canine Assistants, founded in 1991 and based on an 18-acre farm in Milton, has trained and placed approximately 1,000 dogs over the last two decades.

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Tags: Community & Outreach

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    Would like more information on getting involved with this progra
    November 20, 2013 | 09:34 AM

    We have had labs as pets for over 30 years and recognize their wonderful traits and connective ability with people. Our current lab, Jackson, is a rescued dog we adopted from the Katrina disaster. I worked with Jack and trained him to trust people again, to listen to commands, and helped him become the wonderful dog that was inside him all the time.

    Jack is now filled with cancer and we are told he won't be with us much longer. I think I will need some time to adjust to his loss. Working with your organization appeals to me deeply. I spoke with a volunteer at a local bookstore recently,; she had her puppy in training with her and explained a bit about your organization.

    Could you let me know if there is a volunteer need in which I could participate?

    Susan Poynter
    Dawsonville, Ga
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