contributed

Canine connection

County Connection buses at the Concord facility recently went to the dogs -- for a good cause. Each year the transportation agency participates in puppy training, and this year, volunteers from the San Ramon Valley Guide Dogs for the Blind brought their young canines to learn how to use public transportation. The group raises puppies for placement through Guides Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael. "The puppies need to learn how to use the buses if they are to graduate and become guide dogs," said Louise Pay, club leader. "Before trainers take their puppies out into the community using public transportation, they need to make sure the animal is not frightened by the noise and movement and can remain under the trainers' control." During training at the bus yard, puppies walk around the bus while it's running and become familiar with the sights and noises. They hear the air brakes, the doors opening and closing, and the ramp unfolding or sliding out from the undercarriage. The majority of training is spent practicing the use of the mechanical wheelchair lift when -- if there are nerves -- this is typically where they show up. "We're thankful that County Connection helps us each year."