Dr. Bonnie Bergin
In 1975, Bonnie Bergin originated the concept of “service dogs,” dogs trained to help people with mobility limitations. She founded Canine Companions for Independence (CCI)in Santa Rosa, California, to be the provider of such dogs, expanding CCI to centers in NewYork, Ohio, Florida, and southern California.
Her research into dog personalities provided an objective, reliable method of placing service dogs with clients. She also identified key concepts in service dog selection: low arousal, low predation, and low initiative among other traits, and coined the term “unobtrusive helpmate.”
Reading increases problem-solving skills in humans. Teaching dogs to read visual symbols in the form of word commands to build their service dog problem-solving skills became another of her goals. With a Stanford University study supporting her work, tests showthat the dog has sufficient cognition to respond to doggie stick figure postures with no priortraining beyond the initial word reading exercises.
Dr. Bergin was asked by the U.S. Justice Department to help develop the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations regarding assistance dogs and was invited to the RoseGarden for President George H.W. Bush’s signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Bonnie has spoken or taught worldwide. She has educated people in Canada, Europe and Japan, in addition to the U.S.
Dr. Bergin has made a contribution to the lives of both disabled individuals and dogs by expanding the capabilities and role each is able to assume in society.
Last Updated: Monday, October 25, 2010