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service dog in training: patrick and lillie #gunnerdogs
11-21-232 mins read
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For the last four months, I’ve been volunteering with Retrieving Independence as a team lead for Lillie, who’s a service dog in training.

Retrieving Independence is a Nashville-based nonprofit that breeds, trains and places service dogs with people who are living with physical, mental or emotional disability.

#GunnerDogs
GUNNER News

Story by Patrick Richardson, GUNNER Director of Finance

For the last four months, I’ve been volunteering with Retrieving Independence as a team lead for Lillie, who’s a service dog in training.

Retrieving Independence is a Nashville-based nonprofit that breeds, trains and places service dogs with people who are living with physical, mental or emotional disability – and they partner with the Tennessee Department of Corrections to work with inmates to train those service dogs.

It’s a really impactful mission and they also work with community members who volunteer to host the dogs-in-training when they periodically leave the corrections facility, so they can get comfortable with public life.
I learned about Retrieving Independence through GUNNER and our support of the organization and became one of the team leads. Once a month, Lillie leaves the prison and comes home with me and my family for a week.


When Lillie is with me, I take her everywhere I go to help her gain experience in a variety of settings. Whether I’m going to the grocery store, church, or the office, she comes with me and I reinforce the training and commands she learns from the inmates throughout the rest of the month. Even if we go into a restaurant, she goes with us too: she stays quiet the whole time we’re there, laying under the table.
Lillie has a pretty clear switch between work mode and play mode. In public when she’s “working,” she’s focused and driven as ever. But at home, it’s like having a second family dog. She gets along great with our family rescue dog, Rivers, and my three kids love playing with her and having her around.


Working with Lillie has also helped me better learn how to train dogs, which has been impactful as I’m implementing those methods with training Rivers as well.


The most exciting part of working with Retrieving Independence is being able to take Lillie into places that don’t typically allow dogs. It’s cool to see how she reacts at a restaurant or grocery store, and I always get a lot of questions about her in public. Every time someone asks if she’s a service dog, I get to tell them about Retrieving Independence. It’s a great opportunity to inform people about their goals and mission.”
–Patrick Richardson, GUNNER Director of Finance #GunnerDogs

GUNNER is a Pledge 1% company – which means we will give 1% of our profits, products and time to our local community (Nashville) and non-profit organizations that we believe align with our vision of making the world a better place. One of those organizations is Retrieving Independence.

On #GivingTuesday2023, we’re 2x-ing donations to the organization. So for every $1 you donate to Retrieving Independence, we’ll chip in $2 more to the organization, no purchase necessary.
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