Cumberland Times-News

Local News

January 19, 2013

Inaugural parade to include residents representing service dog organization

Westernport teen, her mom and Frostburg couple will lead special pets along Pennsylvania Avenue

CUMBERLAND — A Westernport girl, 13-year-old Emma Banner, along with three other locals, will be in the presidential inaugural parade on Monday as part of a contingent representing the Canine Companions for Independence.

The CCI is one of only 59 organizations to be selected out of 2,800 applicants to be in the inaugural parade.

Emma, her mother, Cara Banner, along with Stuart and Susan Sommers of Frostburg and their beloved dogs will march down Pennsylvania Avenue in President Barack Obama’s inaugural parade as part of a 130-person, 50-dog group representing the service dog organization.

CCI is the nation’s largest nonprofit provider of highly trained assistance dogs in the country.

“It’s an honor to represent the organization in the parade,” said Cara.

CCI provides trained Labrador or golden retrievers, or a mix of the breeds, to special needs people to perform a variety of functions from hearing, facility or skilled companion dogs to assistance for wounded veterans.

Emma with her mother and their dog, Bud, are what’s known as a skilled companion team.

The team consists of a facilitator, who is Cara, the dog, and the recipient, which is Emma.

Cara said the addition of the dog has been great for Emma, who is nonverbal due to a rare disease known as Kleefstra syndrome, which is caused by a chromosome deletion.

“Emma got her dog in May of 2010. It’s been a big boost to her confidence,” said Cara.

“The dog is her constant friend and companion. Before it was what can’t she do; now it is what can she do,” said Cara.

Stuart and Susan Sommers are volunteer puppy raisers with CCI. They are now with their ninth dog, named Newcomb.

The Sommers family was delighted to hear CCI was picked for the parade.

“I was shocked. I’m so excited for CCI,” said Susan. “I’m glad for the exposure. We’ll get to reach a lot of people who may want to donate or volunteer.”

The Sommers family receives a puppy from CCI when the dog is 8 weeks old and trains the dog until it reaches 18 months.

“We teach them 40 basic commands. At 18 months, they go to Long Island, New York, for six months of advanced training before they are placed,” said Susan.

When the dog has finished all its training, applicants who are selected to receive a dog will go for two weeks of training to learn what the dog knows, said Susan.

The Sommers family gets very attached to the puppy.

“People ask, ‘How can you give it back?’ We love each of them but the dog has a bigger mission. They will be a miracle for an exceptional person one day,” said Susan.

CCI holds a graduation ceremony for dogs that are ready to move on.

“Everyone is crying their eyes out,” said Susan.

CCI is headquartered in Santa Rosa, Calif., where the dogs are bred. The country is then broken into regions for distribution, with Allegany County placed in the North East Region.

The process is free for everyone involved with CCI, including the recipient.

“Bud is a serious dog when he is working. At home he lets his guard down and plays and becomes a pet,” said Cara.

The Sommers family teaches the puppies basic commands such as: sit, stay, fetch, pick up, walking on the right or left, turns and more.

“We also have to socialize the dogs to be around the public and be around churches, libraries, the post office and other places,” said Susan.

“It’s all about giving. People light up when they see the dogs,” said Susan.

The local group will board a bus to arrive at the Pentagon at 8:30 a.m. to be searched by the Secret Service before going to a holding area for the parade.

Cara said that CCI’s position in the parade will be in the fourth unit with the Air Force.

Greg Larry can be contacted at glarry@times-news.com.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Advocates call for expansion of summer lunch program

    CUMBERLAND — It’s the first year that St. John’s Lutheran Church on Arch Street has participated in the summer lunch program for children. The Rev. Tormod Svensson, the pastor at the church, said that while the church has offered food programs before, this is the first time they’ve been officially part of the Summer Food Service Program.

    July 23, 2014

  • Kona Ice owners dole out treats, give back to the community Kona Ice owners dole out treats, give back to the community

    CUMBERLAND — In addition to serving tasty treats and putting a smile on patrons’ faces, Oakland residents Wheeler Stewart and Jeff Orr, owners/operators of Kona Ice Mountain Maryland, do their part to give back to Allegany and Garrett counties. The number one theme of Kona Ice is that if you give it back, it’s going to come back to you, said Stewart.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Two face additional charges in child’s death

    MOOREFIELD, W.Va. — West Virginia State Police have served arrest warrants on Joseph A. Christy and Summer L. McDaniel in the case of their 26-day-old infant’s death.

    July 23, 2014

  • Helping others Helping others

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Commissioners set to vote on plan

    CUMBERLAND — Allegany County commissioners are scheduled Thursday to vote on the 266-page, 2014 Allegany County Comprehensive Plan. The portion of the plan that has stirred some controversy is the inclusion of the Terrapin Run Development. If commissioners approve the plan, the development will be an official part of the county’s land use development plan for the future.

    July 23, 2014

  • Iron Rail Street fire Faulty electrical outlet sparks Mount Savage fire

    MOUNT SAVAGE — Tuesday’s fire that caused an estimated $30,000 property loss in a residence on Iron Rail Street has been determined to be accidental, according to the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • In Brief - 07/24

    July 23, 2014

  • Frostburg to use ARC grant for Braddock Road improvements

    FROSTBURG — The city of Frostburg will use a $1.275 million federal grant to improve access to a 25-plus acre site that is available for commercial and industrial development, according to an announcement by U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski.

    July 23, 2014

  • Shooting suspects arrested at Altoona mall

    July 23, 2014

  • Firefighters Union wants county paramedics to unionize

    July 23, 2014