The Daily Spike: Puppy love and finding the perfect match

That moment when you find your match can be one of the most memorable events in your life. You’re both so excited. Maybe a little nervous. Your heart is pounding. And then you see the love of your life. You lock eyes. You see his or her big smile and that tail starts wagging. Maybe there’s even a little bit of drool.

Yes, I’m talking about when a Canine Companions for Independence service dog and their human meet and are matched for life!

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Justin and his grandparents Carl and Michele with Holiday in an old photo

Justin and his grandparents Carl and Michele with Holiday in an old photo (Courtesy of Jennifer Williams/Ciofolo family)

It’s like lightning in a bottle and I can’t wait for Spike to hopefully pass all his doggy exams and be matched with his fur-ever partner. That’s why hundreds of volunteer puppy raisers like me around the country put in the time and energy to raise these hardworking pups. We all hope that our dogs will graduate and be matched with a child, adult or veteran with a disability and help them become more independent.

A few years ago, 10-year old Justin got to experience this magic match when he was paired with his Canine Companions for Independence service dog, Holiday. The two instantly hit it off and have now been together for more than four years.

Ahead of Feb. 14, Justin wrote this great valentine about Holiday and shared it with the Canine Companions community – I thought it perfectly summed up why these dogs are so special.

“Hello, my name is Justin. I have a dog-named Holiday. She came to live with me in November 2014. I was 10 years old. I am now 14 and Holiday is six. I love her more than anything. Here are the reasons why,” he began.

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“Holiday – Taught me to play catch, loves stuffed animals just like me, makes me laugh, always loves me, helps me make friends, calms me down, kisses me when I am upset

helps me fall asleep (and wake up,) likes Legos, can run faster than me, and helps me not be lonely,” Justin wrote. “I know Holiday was made special just for me. She makes everything better.”

So on this Valentine’s Day, while you are looking for that perfect gift for your valentine, maybe you’d like to help make more perfect matches like the one between Justin and Holiday. You can send someone a special puppy love valentine when you go to cci.org.

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Click here to learn more about Canine Companions for Independence.