SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – A group of four-legged, soon-to-be service pups took a trip to Disneyland and became instant celebrities across the globe after adorable snapshots surfaced on Twitter.
The picture-perfect companion puppies were spotted all over the Happiest Place on Earth wearing sparkly mouse ears and posing with patrons.
“She loved it. All of the dogs did and they had a blast,” said Jennifer Wilinski, a volunteer puppy handler.
As it turns out, the Mouseketeers are all from Sacramento area and a part of the Canine Companions for Independence.
“It is a fantastic nonprofit organization that gives highly trained assistant dogs to people in need for free of charge,” she said.
Now their star status is just an extra bonus.
“She’s definitely eating it up and getting some extra attention,” talking about her 9-month-old black lab, Aryssa.
But it’s not all about the ears and the fun, it’s also a lot of work. That’s because someday, Aryssa is going to have a very important job.
“We provide dogs for people in wheelchairs, people with autism, we provide dogs for disabled veterans,” Wilinski said.
Aryssa will continue training with her puppy trainer for at least another year, and the two are inseparable.
“It’s 24-7 because really she’s working all the time,” she said.
Then Aryssa will have 6 to 9 more months of expert training.
“To finish off learning to open and close doors, retrieve dropped items, she will learn to potentially pull a wheelchair,” Wilinski added.
So, for now, they’re working hard, and they’re having all the fun.
“She met Chip and Dale, and she goes, ‘Oh my god there’s two of them, I’m so excited!'” Wilinski said. “So I think at that point she did go ‘Oh my God, happiest place on earth. There’s two mousescots for me to say hi to!'”
Just adding to the magical journey, this program provides.
“I hope she does something really, really nice for someone someday,” Wilinski added.
But it’s bittersweet for the two. Aryssa is Wilinski’s fourth dog while working with the organization.
“We just have to think about the big picture and know that somebody needs her a lot more than I do, so even though it’s gonna be hard to let her go, I still have a little more than a year left, so I try not to think about it too much,” she added.
These dogs are funded by donations and events.
Their next big one is in Granite Bay this October.
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