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Assistance dog training reaches new heights through nonprofit Can Do Canines

The "flight to nowhere" allows future assistance animals to walk through the airport, go through security and get on a mock plane at an airport training facility.

MINNEAPOLIS — Travelers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport probably noticed a lot of dogs in the airport on Saturday morning.

The animals and their trainers were there to take part in a unique opportunity through the nonprofit Can Do Canines.

It's called a "flight to nowhere," and it allows the future assistance animals to walk through the airport, go through security and even get on a mock plane at a training facility located in the airport.

The Can Do Canine volunteers say this "real-world" experience can't be beaten.

"It is different than my living room or going to Target. There's just so many smells and people and different equipment and having to wait with security and things like that," said volunteer Karen Bradley. "This is an excellent thing for them to partner with the airport with."

This special flight — that technically never takes off — is made possible by Delta and the Minneapolis Airport Commission.

The Can Do Canine volunteers work with the assistance dogs for six weeks to 22 months in an effort to socialize them, work on basic obedience and attend monthly training outings with Can Do Canines staff.

The dog is then returned to Can Do Canines for final training before being placed with a client with a disability, for free.

For more information about Can Do Canines, click here.

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