My Canine Companion (MCC) is an Irish charity that provides accredited service dogs to people with disabilities, predominantly autism. In addition, they provide a range of therapy dog services and autism awareness programmes. They are the largest provider of this service in Ireland with the highest success training rate.
My Canine Companion was set up in Blarney Cork in 2011 by husband-and-wife team Cliona O’Rourke and Niall Ruddy.
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.
Cliona was the first 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.
Annually My Canine Companions 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).
My Canine Companion does not charge families for the provision of our service dog programmes. However the cost to the charity of providing their fully qualified service dogs over a two year programme and continuing lifetime support is €10,000.
CEO of My Canine Companion Niall Ruddy said: “Our aim is to enhance the quality of life for people with difficulties predominately autism through the provision of highly qualified service dogs. We also have plans to roll out additional group and individual therapy services to complement our current therapy services in schools, nursing homes, etc.
“We will further develop our awareness programmes including our work with Irish towns and communities to help them become not only autism friendly but autism responsive. Our partnership with Green Rebel Marine is so important to us in these areas as we seek to together improve both autism services and awareness”.
Mark O’Reilly from Green Rebel Marine said: “We are delighted to be able to support the fantastic work of My Canine Companion. Service Dogs make dramatic differences in the quality of life for children with Autism and their families. We are looking forward to working together this year and helping families all around Ireland.”