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Three pilots volunteered for a very special mission recently, transporting a cargo of 28 puppies to their new homes.
The golden retrievers, Labrador retrievers and mixed puppies were all on their way to training with Canine Companions for Independence – a nonprofit that provides people with disabilities with assistance dogs for free.
Pilots Martyn Lewis, Josh Hochberg and Jeff Stewart were volunteering for the nonprofit, which has also bought puppies to Idago, Southern California, Oregon, Texas, Montana and Washington to be trained up, and offer people the vital help they so desperately need.
The dogs are bred at the Canine Companions headquarters in Santa Rosa, California before being sent out to be trained at eight weeks old.
The pilots flew out from Sonoma, California, and took the pups to their new temporary homes.
There, the volunteer trainers are set to teach them around 30 commands until they’re about a year and a half, before they’re sent to professional training centres to learn even more advanced instructions.
“Not only are they giving their plane, but their time, their fuel,” a representative of Canine Companions told Insider. “They’re going out for full days … it’s just incredible.”
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Josh Hocherg, who also owned the Jet Center in Sonoma where the planes flew out from, said that the dogs were good as gold on the journey, too, and often sleep the entire time.
“Once they get not the plane, they require less attention than my daughters,” he said.
Discussing the voluntary gig, he said: “It’s more fulfilling than I could have possibly imagined, so fulfilling that I actually got a puppy of my own”.
Currently the nonprofit has 400 people waiting for a service dog of their own, so it’s essential this selfless voluntary work continues.
We wanna sign up! (There’s just the small matter of learning to fly a plane first…)
In the meantime, you can donate to Canine Companions and help them continue their incredible work here.