Valor is defined as boldness or determination in facing great danger, especially in battle; heroic courage; bravery. That word so perfectly describes every single first responder that gave their all, day in and day out, in the weeks following 9/11. Many that conducted search and rescue missions in the rubble that remained continue to feel the physical effects of their tireless efforts nearly 18 years later.
Chronic pain, mobility limitations, and breathing difficulties are common. NYC firefighter and 9/11 first responder Paul Monfre struggles with these kinds of symptoms in his daily life, making it difficult to do everyday tasks like pick dropped items up from the floor. But life should soon be getting a bit easier for Monfre, with the support of his aptly named service dog, Valor.
Valor VII is a graduate of the Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) program. CCI is a nonprofit organization that raises and trains service dogs, provided free of charge to those in need. Since 1975 they have placed Goldens, Labs, and Golden Lab crosses with recipients that are physically impaired, have cognitive or developmental disabilities, or have hearing loss. They also place dogs in health care and criminal justice settings. They work with adults, children, and veterans.
They rely on volunteers to raise breeder born newborn puppies for the first eight weeks of their lives. From there, volunteer trainers socialize and provide basic obedience training to the pups for 14-18 months. Once ready, the puppies are matched with a recipient and the dog and new handler go through the CCI program together, learning all of the commands the pair will use to support one another moving forward.
Valor and Monfre were model students. Working with expert trainers, they learned specific commands but also spent time bonding. The more bonded the pair, the more successful the working relationship will be. Going on field trips into public places helps solidify the pair’s connection and gives opportunities to give and respond to commands in the real world. Most CCI graduates know about 40 such commands upon program completion.
At home, Valor will pick things up for Monfre that he has dropped or grab items for him that are too low to the ground for him to reach on his own. Monfre’s chronic pain and stamina make it hard for him to leave home but CCI and Monfre are hopeful that Valor will help change that.
CCI program coordinator Jessica Riess told InsideEdition.com, “Working on 9/11, he has medical issues related to that: some fatigue, difficulty breathing. And I think that Valor’s really going to help him regain some of that stamina. I feel like this dog is really going to motivate him to get back to where he was before those things.”
Monfre enjoyed going to school with Valor but is looking forward to their time together at home even more. He plans to venture out more with Valor’s help, taking him to the beach on long walks or even out running. Although Valor will live with Monfre, CCI will maintain ownership and conduct regular visits to make sure all is going well with the partnership.
Check out Monfre and Valor’s story in this video that aired on Inside Edition.
Featured Image Screenshot Inside Edition YouTube
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