GREAT FALLS – It’s often said that a dog is man’s best friend, but for many people, a four-legged loyal pal can be much more.

For 17 years, Kim Monroe of Great Falls has raised puppies for Canine Companions for Independence.

Since 1975, the California-based nonprofit has been training service dogs for the disabled.

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“So whether they’re in a wheelchair or just have trouble picking things up, opening doors, maybe they just get really fatigued, the dog will carry things for them so they just help them live independent lives,” said Monroe.

Monroe’s latest pupil is Daya, a black lab-golden retriever cross, an excellent breed mix for service training.

“Canine Companions started with German Shepherds, Corgis, I think they had sheepdogs at one time,” said Monroe. “They have just found over 40 years of doing this that Labradors and Golden Retrievers make the best service dogs. They have the best temperament. They’re willing to please. They’re playful, yet hard-workers.

Monroe picked up Daya from the organization’s headquarters in Santana Rosa when Daya was eight-weeks-old. She’s been training her ever since.

MTN’s Tim McGonigal

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