wp header logo 648

Born to help: Alberta puppies receive assistance training at Dogs With Wings – Global News

Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.
If you get Global News from Instagram or Facebook – that will be changing. Find out how you can still connect with us.
An Edmonton non-profit organization has been helping puppies prepare to change lives across Western Canada for nearly three decades and it is looking for more volunteers.
Dogs With Wings breeds, raises and trains assistance dogs and, according to director of business operations and chief of staff Amanda Bourgouin, the pups can follow many careers paths once they’ve completed training.
“We have a mobility service program, an autism service dog program and a facility dog program — which is for social service agencies — like child and youth advocacy centres, victim service units or schools,” she explained.
The non-profit has connected more than 200 dogs with clients across Western Canada since it began in the late 1990s, with the majority in Alberta.
The dogs go through extensive training to get ready for a career helping others.
It starts when the seven-week-old puppies are given a 15-minute test to examine their general behaviours.
Piera Angotti, the training program manager at Dogs with Wings, takes puppies through a series of tests like meeting an older dog, walking up a ramp and examining unfamiliar objects.
“Are they stressed by different sounds or novel objects? Are they able to recover quickly and come back and check in with their handler?” Angotti explained. “It’s a test to see where their confidence levels are at and if they might be a suitable candidate for our programs here.”
Most puppies pass this test and are then matched with a volunteer. The organization is in search of more volunteers to provide some extra help — and extra cuddles — to assistance dogs in training.
From there, they complete more advanced training and will eventually be placed with a client. Some of the program’s dogs that exhibit the right temperaments also become breeding dogs, so traits wanted in future service dogs are passed on to new litters.
Most dogs go on to “careers” but if training proves they are better suited to a more “laid back” lifestyle, that’s an option too.
“They are adopted out and that is available to anyone in the general public. They are still very well-trained dogs, they just prefer the life of a pet over a working dog,” Bourgouin said.
The non-profit is also accepting donations to help connect more dogs with clients.
It costs more than $40,000 to breed, train and place a dog, according to Dogs With Wings. However, the cost to clients is $1.
The email you need for the day’s top news stories from Canada and around the world.
The email you need for the day’s top news stories from Canada and around the world.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top