Panel Discussion About Canine Companions For Independence

For this edition of “Talking Animals,” I altered the show’s usual format to convene an in-studio panel discussion about Canine Companions For Independence (CCI), pegged to CCI’s then-upcoming third annual DogFest Walk ‘n’ Roll event, on March 3 at Al Lopez Park in Tampa, and featuring three CCI-affiliated humans, and their canine companions:

Mary Taylor Jacobs, who wears various CCI hats, including serving on the organization’s board of directors, and volunteering as a puppy raiser—she raised her first CCI puppy in 1993, and is currently raising Frankie, who joined me in studio. (that’s not Frankie in the photo)

Bill Gregg, who has spina bifada, remains independent with the assistance of his dog, Abner, who helps Gregg by picking things up off the floor, opening doors, and turning light switches on and off. Abner was in studio, too.

Bob Hoak occupies the other end of the path from Mary Jacobs, at least as pertains to the CCI prison puppy-raising program—in that he has “finished” four dogs from that prison program, and was accompanied by his current charge, Dobby.


We covered a sizable hunk of ground in the discussion, including how each of the three first heard of CCI or get involved with the organization…the biggest changes that Jacobs had seen in the course of her 25-year relationship with CCI…how Gregg and his family attended an informational fair, and upon hearing about CCI, his sister suggested it might be a good fit for him, launching the process that eventually paired him with Abner, his first service dog…the conversation touched on the proper protocol for asking permission before petting a service dog wearing a vest, the differences between services dogs and emotional support dogs…this veered into an exchange about the issue of fake service/emotional dogs, and a caller’s question about how to question someone about the status of their dog without running afoul of the Americans with Disabilities Act…Hoak explained what’s involved in “finishing” a dog that was previously in the CCI Prison Puppy Raising Program…We noted that Gregg and all other CCI clients are not charged a cent for their dogs, and that CCI is funded by donations, grants and events, like their annual Gala, and the DogFest Walk ‘n’ Roll. (,

The conversation streamed on Facebook Live:


ALSO: I spoke with Nicole Green, a past guest on “Talking Animals,” in her capacity as Director of Animalearn, but today, as a board member of the Association of Professional Humane Educators, she discussed the forthcoming National Humane Education Conference, slated for March 7-9, in Orlando. She notes that, given the scope of the issues and the curricula to be discussed at the conference, people from all sorts of fields—including shelters, animal welfare, education, among others—are invited to attend. (

COMEDY CORNER: Eddie Izzard’s “Guide Dogs” (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: The Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden”


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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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