My Canine Companion is an Irish national charity RCN 20079147 who provide accredited service dogs to people with disabilities, predominantly autism. In addition MCC provides a range of therapy dog services and autism awareness programmes.
“To enhance the quality of life for people with difficulties predominately autism through the provision of highly qualified service dogs”
My Canine Companion was set up in 2011 by husband-and-wife team Cliona O’Rourke and Niall Ruddy. With humble beginnings from the couple’s home in Blarney Co Cork the charity quickly became the largest provider of service dogs to children and young adults with autism in Ireland.
The organisation is now headquartered in Blackpool, Cork and provides a nationwide service including the provision of over 60% of Ireland’s autism service/assistance dogs.
1st in Europe:
MCC co- founder Cliona O’Rourke with over 20 years’ experience is a world leader in the service dog industry. She was the 1st person in Europe to train a dog specifically for a child with autism in 2004. Cliona travelled to Canada to observe the Canadian autism service dog programme before developing the first European programme in Ireland in 2004/2005. Cliona has since helped several European schools develop their programmes.
My Canine Companion is committed to enriching the lives of people with difficulties particularly autism,through the placement of highly skilled Service Dogs and companion dogs providing safety, independence, and companionship to our clients
As each child is different our organisation provides an outstanding customised service to meet the specific needs of each family. We work with children and young adults with not only autism but varied other conditions. Many of our clients have dual or multiple diagnoses.
We assess a families specific needs and we try to adapt our services to satisfy those needs.
We have placed service dogs that work with two siblings on the spectrum, we have also placed two service dogs in families with two or more children on the spectrum. My Canine Companion does not have a cut off age for applying for our service we have successfully worked with a number of teenagers and young adults
WE ARE THE LARGEST PROVIDER IN IRELAND:
Annually MCC provides over 60% of Ireland’s service/assistance dogs to children with autism. The balance is provided by Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind 33% and Autism Assistance Dogs Ireland 7%.
MCC qualifies an average of 45 autism service dog partnerships per year and currently have 275 working dog partnerships in Ireland. (November 2020).
This number does not include companion dogs. We also supply an increasing number of therapy dogs per year working in schools, hospitals, nursing homes etc.
How much does a service dog cost?
My Canine Companion does not charge any of our clients for the provision of our service dog programmes.
The cost to the charity of providing our fully qualified service dogs over a 2 year programme and continuing lifetime support is €10,000
This is less than 50% of the industry average.
Our unrivalled success rates and our innovative puppy programme allow us to keep our costs at this level.
What We Do
Service Dogs make dramatic differences in the quality of life for children with Autism and their families. Not only do our dogs assist them physically, but these special dogs also become the child’s best and in some cases, only, friend.
Our Service Dogs are fully trained to the highest standard over a 2 year training programme. My Canine Companion is an accredited member of Assistance Dogs International (ADI).
puppies in bunratty 082.jpg
Screen Shot 2020-12-17 at 12.33.08 am.png
Screen Shot 2020-12-17 at 12.36.23 am.png
Examples of how a Service Dog helps a child and his/her family living with Autism.
The dogs help increase safety levels and alleviates bolting behaviours
Acts as an anchor when tethered to the child
Provides independence as the child doesn’t have to hold the parents hand
Provides greater freedom to go out in public thanks to the calming effect of the dog
Helps with transitioning which leads to reduced stress levels and a more positive experience for all.
Acts as a constant companion, offering unconditional love and friendship to the child