As our employees return to working in person at the Energy Center, they may have noticed a new companion around the office: Nolani, a service dog and a member of the Canine Companions program.
Jim Delano, Environmental Affairs Manager, and his family are helping raise Nolani, teaching her basic commands, supporting her training and teaching her socialization skills. As Nolani visits our offices with Jim, she is playing a crucial role in advancing our company’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) objectives. Today, we explore the unique aspects of the Canine Companion program, and the value Nolani is providing to our company.
What is the objective of the Canine Companions program?
Canine Companions was founded in 1975 and matches services dogs at no cost to people of all ages or organizations of all industries to promote independent living.
What types of events, programs, etc. is Nolani participating in while she is at Southern Nuclear?
As Canine Companion Volunteer Puppy Raisers, my family and I provide Nolani a safe home, basic obedience training and classes, and socialization.
While at Southern Nuclear, Nolani is participating in my normal day-to-day routine, spending her days with me in both my home and Energy Center offices, attending meetings while learning to appropriately interact with co-workers and in differing environments.
How is Nolani helping advance the company’s DE&I goals?
As the third Canine Companion service dog raised by company employees, Nolani is advancing the company’s DE&I strategy by providing teaching moments that will help us all understand how to include and engage our peers with disabilities – visible or invisible.
Nolani is able to visit other work groups so they can learn about service dog etiquette and participate in her socialization by helping her learn to appropriately interact with others. Through her presence and interactions, she is breaking down a common bias barrier of those with disabilities who need support to gain their independence.
On a personal note, as the parent of a disabled child, DE&I is extremely important to my family and me. Most disabilities are invisible to the outside world, and they impact a person’s ability to live independently. Unfortunately, we have personally experienced the negative impact of bias towards people with disabilities, but we are grateful that Southern Nuclear participates in a crucial program like Canine Companions.
What type of training is Nolani currently undergoing?
Nolani is currently working through basic obedience commands, attending class every two weeks with a professional trainer. She’s learned all the major commands and is now working on the “three D’s” – distance, duration and distraction.
Nolani is also starting to learn commands that will serve as the foundation for her working career. For example, the touch command – teaching Nolani to touch our hands – serves as the foundation for the commands that are used to close drawers or doors, open doors using a handicap push plate and turn light switches on. Another example is the shake command, which is used to teach service dogs how to turn light switches off and untangle themselves from a leash.