After a year loyally escorting Wade Kammin to work, to the grocery store, to restaurants and more, Lilly, a service dog in training, is about to leave Springfield for her higher education.
Bred by nonprofit group Canine Companions for Independence (CCI), the golden retriever will eventually be given free of charge to a physically disabled adult who can benefit from her company and skills, which will include the ability to open doors, push buttons and pull wheelchairs.
The owner of Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop and a volunteer for CCI, Kammin welcomed Lilly into his home when she was eight weeks old and began teaching her obedience skills and manners to prepare her for accompanying her future master wherever she’s needed. Before she can become a full-fledged service dog, Lilly will head to Ohio where CCI has an advanced training facility. By the time Lilly finishes her training, she’ll be valued at about $45,000, Kammin says.
“Part of training the puppies is exposing them to places,” Kammin says, so “the novelty of the places wears off for the dog.” He adds that the Springfield community has been great for Lilly. “We really get warm welcomes wherever we go.”
Before Kammin sends Lilly to Ohio, he’s planning a farewell event in Lilly’s honor and to raise support for CCI on Saturday, Aug. 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Wild Birds Unlimited, 1930 S. MacArthur Blvd. Donations to CCI will be accepted and those wishing to make a contribution can find a list of needed items on the Wild Birds Unlimited website at http://springfieldil.wbu.com.
While Lilly won’t be in town much longer, her half-brother, Sly, only just arrived. Already becoming a fixture in Kammin’s shop, Sly is the fourth dog Kammin has taken in as part of the CCI volunteer training program.