Canine Companions for Independence has placed the Lone Star State’s first facility dog trained specifically for a community of adults with special needs.

The non-profit organization’s south-central region trained and placed a labrador and golden retriever cross, named Yoshi, with Daymark Living, which is the first neighborhood for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and located in Waxahachie.

Opening this summer, Daymark Living provides a state-of-the-art residential community dedicated to helping adults age 18 and older with IDD live, learn and thrive, in an all-inclusive environment that includes housing, education, and connections to employment.

“Yoshi was specifically matched with Daymark because of her calm and gentle temperament,” said Erin Christensen, Canine Companions for Independence Apprentice Instructor. “She has been trained in interactive commands and skills that her handler can utilize with residents, and with her affectionate personality she will love interacting with residents to provide fun and a sense of comfort.”

Daymark Living notes Yoshi’s presence has already helped future residents feel welcomed during the interview process and been a benefit to its social club, which hosts at least two social events each month throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area for individuals aged 15 and up. That said, her primary mission will be to assist residents – helping to encourage each to achieve their personal best upon Daymark’s opening this summer. Summer Camp sessions began July 9 while the full, in-residence experience is also on track to open in late summer.

“There’s nothing like the presence of a canine companion to create a welcoming environment for our future residents and Daymark Social Club participants,” said Dr. Molly Sullivan Taylor, director of community life for Daymark Living. “Beyond the initial greeting and overall warming presence, Yoshi knows more than 40 commands which can be adapted to help residents in all aspects of their lives here at Daymark.”

Yoshi will be a constant presence in the clubhouse, there to interact with everyone that comes through the heart of Daymark Living. She will also be there to work with the residents if they have a stressful day or need encouragement to participate in classes or activities. Already, a favorite command of future residents is Yoshi’s ability to rest her head on their lap with the “visit” command.

Daymark Living features space for up to 202 residents in 28 luxury cottages, where each individual has a private bed and bathroom, as well as a complete meal plan, on-site medical attention and added security measures. A full array of indoor/outdoor resort-style amenities are set on 40 acres in Waxahachie.

It’s located in an area where adults with IDD face a lack of adequate independent housing options. Presently, just 400 quality beds exist in Texas to service roughly 574,000 adults with IDD in the three major markets (Dallas, Houston and Austin/San Antonio), according to a Texas Workforce Investment Council report - less than one percent of the identified population.

Canine Companions for Independence provides highly-trained assistance dogs to children, adults and veterans with disabilities at no charge.

Established in 1975, Canine Companions has six training centers across the country. The largest non-profit provider of assistance dogs, Canine Companions is recognized worldwide for the excellence of its dogs, and the quality and longevity of the matches it makes between dogs and people.

For more information, visit cci.org or call 1-800-572-BARK.

To see Yoshi on Instagram (#_yoshigram_), visit www.instagram.com/_yoshigram_/.