People in Grande Prairie are being asked to help raise puppies so that they can one day help other people. Dogs with Wings Assistance Dog Society is looking for at least four people willing to dedicate a year to train the next crop of assistance dogs.
Volunteer Coordinator Susan Craig-Bieganek says they are looking to send a litter of puppies up to the city at eight to 10 weeks old where the raisers will teach them the basics in order to continue with their training.
“We start at six weeks teaching them to sit… There’s teaching them about manners, about not barking, they don’t go on furniture, they don’t sleep in beds. They’re socializing them [and] getting them to be comfortable with different types of people in different environments.”
Based out of Edmonton, Dogs With Wings trains assistance dogs for a number of different tasks such as helping a child who may have Autism or training one to be placed in a school.
Currently, there are two trained dogs in Grande Prairie. One is an Autism dog which is placed with a local child and the other is a facility dog at the Caribou Child and Youth Centre.
The dogs, the equipment, food and vet bills are all paid for by Dogs with Wings. Craig-Bieganek says they just need the people willing to put in the time.
“24/7 the dog is their responsibility. That means if they have to be relieved every 30 minutes, that means if they happen to throw up on their new white carpet they are responsible for raising, socializing, loving that puppy.”
Craig-Bieganek says that while it can be hard to raise a dog and then give them up, it’s a rewarding experience.
“Some people are concerned that they could never give the puppy up and it is definitely very, very hard. People do it and survive it and go on to get other puppies and so it’s a nice way to have that puppy in your life but also not have to have a 10 to 15-year commitment.”
An information session for those interested in getting involved will be held on June 27th at 7 p.m. at Partners Naturally on 112 Ave.