What We’re About


Photo © Sara May/Momenta Workshops 2016.

Our club allows students the opportunity to raise and train service dogs for the organization Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). CCI is a national organization based in Santa Rosa, CA, which places trained canines in a variety of different capacities. They may be placed as service dogs for those with physical handicaps, skilled companions for people living with mental disabilities, hearing dogs for the hearing impaired, and facility dogs that help out at different types of government and medical institutions.


Canine Companions for Independence breeds Labrador/Golden Retriever mixes in Santa Rosa and leaves the puppies to a “Breeder Caretaker.” When the puppies reach eight weeks of age, they are shipped out to new puppy raisers across the country, who then begin the raising process. Eighteen months later, after countless training and socialization exercises, the raisers travel to their local headquarters (ours is located in Orlando, FL) to turn their dogs back over to CCI. After the matriculation, the dogs spend six to nine months with professional trainers learning to do all sorts of advanced tricks and commands, until they are deemed ready to graduate. They are then taken to “Team Training,” in which several dogs interact with several potential human matches, so as to naturally develop a bond with their future person, instead of being assigned to them. When a match is made, the puppy and human graduate as a team, and begin their lives together. 



Raise a Puppy, Change a Life

puppyraising Photo courtesy of Gundacker Photography, copyright 2016.[/caption

We select a handful of raisers each academic year after an incredibly competitive selection process. Our dogs are delivered to campus in at the beginning of the fall semester and from that point on we devote ourselves to training these dogs on a strictly volunteer basis. Tulane’s funding of our club covers the veterinary bills; however, we are responsible for purchasing all the food, toys, and grooming supplies for the dogs. Over the next year and a half, we dedicate over 13,000 hours to these dogs, taking care of them night and day in preparation for their placement. The raising process entails training the dogs on thirty basic commands (including potty training,) etiquette in all manner of situations, and socializing them to different stimuli and environments.




Meet Our Dogs!



TUSTEP’s first dog came to Tulane in August 2013. Since then, we have raised twenty-six, with new puppies to be added every year! To see a list of our dogs and their raisers, click here.