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NADA Celebrates National Service Dog Month, 20-Year Relationship with Canine Companions



Rob Treadway

Robert Treadway

Membership Communications & Marketing Manager
three people and a dog

At just 16 years old, Sean Giblin was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The disease attacks nerves and leads to neurological issues that can increase over time. After about a decade of living with the disease, Sean had to start using an electric wheelchair, which helps. But as the disease progressed, Sean and his parents realized he needed more assistance.

That’s when the Giblins reached out to Canine Companions. Established to help enhance the lives of people with disabilities, Canine Companions provides expertly trained service dogs at no cost to the recipient. Sean was partnered with service dog Oscar, a Labrador/Golden Retriever cross, in 2022. His furry companion has been key to getting Sean out of the house and meeting new people, as well as supporting his emotional and physical well-being.

“If I drop my cellphone, Oscar will pick it up and bring it right to my lap,” Sean says. “I use my cellphone for work. That’s how I do my job. It’s also the way I can reach my parents if I need help.”

Oscar not only acts as Sean’s arms and legs at times, but also provides peace of mind to Sean and his family. Sean’s mother Deb is very appreciative of having such four-legged assistance in their family. “Canine Companions and Oscar have opened our world,” she says.

September is National Service Dog Month, a celebration honoring the life-changing impact of service dogs. Stories like this one, of Sean and Oscar, are why the NADA Foundation has been a supporter of Canine Companions since 2004. That’s when the foundation’s Frank E. McCarthy Memorial Fund began donating grants annually to the organization. And since 2012, the foundation has held an auction in support of Canine Companions at the annual NADA Show.

McCarthy, NADA president from 1968 to 2001, was a recipient of the association’s International Freedom of Mobility Award. His commitment to freedom of mobility, coupled with his love of golden retrievers, made Canine Companions a natural fit when it came to choosing a benefactor for a memorial fund in his honor. In its 20 years of support, the foundation has donated more than $1.2 million to Canine Companions ($905,000 from the auctions alone). The cost of a service dog over a lifetime is more than $50,000. That means the foundation has been able to provide 24 service dogs to help people with disabilities to live more independent lives.

“We are happy to celebrate 20 years of our relationship with Canine Companions,” says Annette Sykora, NADA Foundation chairwoman. “Being able to help people live more independently is amazing. Making a positive impact like this in people’s lives represents the values of our foundation.”

The NADA Foundation annual auction to benefit Canine Companions, sponsored by OPENLANE, will be held Saturday, February 3, at NADA Show in Las Vegas.

Learn more about Canine Companions and National Service Dog Month here.

View a tribute to Frank McCarthy here.

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