Champ the ACC Superdog
Champ is a very special dog. From the moment he was born—one of eight pups in an elite training facility called Can Do Canines— he’s been working hard to acquire the skills and experience that help our students interact in healthy, positive ways.
Champ was selected to work at the Anne Carlsen Center based on his distinguished pedigree and advanced training. As a Chocolate Lab, Champ is very smart. He is hardworking, people-oriented, and, even though Champ loves kids, he never gets too excited, so as to startle the students. Champ’s trainers recognized his laid back, good-tempered personality and trained him to learn an assortment of different service skills, beginning when he was just a puppy. In fact, Champ wasn’t allowed to leave his whelping box until he was trained to sit.
That rigorous training has taken Champ across the Midwest, from his hometown of New Hope, Minnesota, where he cut his teeth on lessons about manners and obedience, to a minimum-security prison in Fairbault, where he modified those skills and provided comfort and companionship to prisoners. And even though Champ now works a full school week here at the Anne Carlsen Center, his education is on-going, and merits periodic assessments from his primary trainer, Julianne Larsen.
Unlike some of his brothers and sisters, who specialize in specific areas of assistance, Champ possesses a broader range of skills, which allow him to work with multiple students. In addition to understanding basic commands like retrieving and tugging, Champ can open doors, pull scooterboards, pick up and gather dropped items, and much more.
But beyond the simple utility Champ brings with his assistance, it’s the intangible connection our students experience with him that make Champ such a beloved companion and an important asset here at the Anne Carlsen Center. Our students love to read to Champ, walk to class with Champ, and use Champ as a social bridge to help with transitions and interact with others.
He’s a very, very good dog.