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Helping Paws had the pleasure of performing three demonstrations at the Land o’Lakes Kennel Club Dog Show January 8, 9, and 10, 2016. Many thanks to our foster home trainers and graduate teams who braved the frigid conditions to participate!

Helping Paws breeds Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers, and places them with volunteer foster home trainers when the puppies are seven weeks of age. We are very grateful to the many breeders in the community who support our mission by donating stud services for our breeding program. The Land o’Lakes Kennel Club Dog Show allows many of these breeders to connect with the offspring of their dogs.

We took this demonstration opportunity to showcase our training process. Our foster home trainers raise and train the dogs for the full two to two-and-a-half years that it takes for the dogs to become service dogs. They attend classes weekly, and train the dogs at home and in public.

Our first phase of the curriculum is called Perfect Puppy. The pups are well-socialized to promote confidence in many environments and circumstances. We use the process of clicker-training, marking and rewarding each skill, or succession of skill, with the clicker followed by a food reward.

A key skill is taught during this phase is Watch – the dog must learn to always look to the human for direction and cues. Below are Sally with Eddie (5 1/2 -month-old Lab) and Karen with Delores (7-month-old Lab). Even in this chaotic venue these pups are focused.

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We add distractions, such as holding food treats out to the side, to prefect the Watch. Here is Sally doing that with Eddie.

 

 

The next phase of training is Awesome Adolescent. The dog begins to learn “service dog skills,” such as retrieving, turning lights on and off, and pulling gloves off – Tug.

IMG_2254Karen and Delores demonstrate Tug with a glove.

Below, Karen and Delores show how we “shape” pushing the toggle switch. Karen clicks and treats for Delores looking at the switch, and then touching the switch with her nose.

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  IMG_2274Eddie, meanwhile, is glued to the action.

The third portion of the training, Working Wonder, was well-represented by Ranae and Brooks. Brooks at 1 and 1/2 years of age is actually further along in the curriculum, but graciously agreed to demo Working Wonder skills. Here he is, getting focused:

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A significant piece of retrieving items involves the dog getting close enough to the person so the individual can reach the object. In the photo below, Brooks brings the item closer to Ranae by adding My Lap to the skill set. This is important for our graduates with physical disabilities, may of whom cannot bend over to take an object from the dog.

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Helping Paws teaches “affection” skills to our dogs in training. Here Brooks shows My Lap combined with Snuggle, getting close to Ranae so she can feel his touch on her face without bending over.

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For our demo, we combined the final phase of training, Big Dog, with our community outreach program of demo dogs. Demo dogs have completed all phases of training, and have passed the public access test required of all of our graduate teams. For various reasons, including health issues such as allergies, these dogs are not placed as service dogs. Volunteers adopt these dogs and help educate the public on service dogs and about Helping Paws.

Big Dog skills include Brace (Jane and Tori) and Rise to turn on and off lights (Lu and Belle).

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In addition to placing service dogs with individuals with physical disabilities, Helping Paws also partners service dogs with military veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Below, Big Dog Summit with Cathy and demo dogs Tori with Jane and Belle with Lu demonstrate Forward, a cue that tells the dog to stand close to its partner, facing forward. This provides two benefits to the veteran – a barrier between the individual and other people, and physical contact with the dog, which is comforting and confidence-building for the vet.

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We are always honored to have graduates participate in our demos. They are our mission in action. Ethan and Stetson graduated from team training in September of 2012. Since then, Ethan has begun driving his own van, and returned to farming, all with Stetson at his side. Remember Awesome Adolescent, where we showed you Karen and Delores shaping Tug with a glove? Here is why we teach this…Stetson tugging off Ethan’s coat.

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We were also grateful for Melissa and Winnie’s participation in the demo. Winnie is Melissa’s second service dog; they were matched and completed team training in October of 2014. Melissa has a busy life style, including walks along the river and dining in restaurants. Winnie is eagerly there for every outing.

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Many thanks to our foster home trainers and graduates for participating in the demos, and to Land o’Lakes Kennel Club for  inviting us!

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Photos courtesy of Scott Kleckner with the exception of the group photo, courtesy of Peter Grottini.

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By Eileen Bohn

 “It is not length of life, but depth of life.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Lucinda and Libby

Lucinda and Libby

Graduate Lucinda Teasley passed away on August 26, 2015. Lucinda and Libby, her service dog, were true partners and were often seen together in their NE Minneapolis neighborhood. Libby brightened Lucinda’s days and Lucinda brightened our days. Lucinda was fondly remembered by friends in a memorial get together on Boom Island, one of Lucinda’s favorite places.

Terry McKnight

Terry McKnight

Terry McKnight Cook, who was partnered with Yuki as her service dog, passed away on September 16, 2015. A conversation with Terry was always an interesting and fun conversation as Terry had an inquisitive mind. Terry was just one of those people who was “delightful” to be around and she is missed by family, friends and her Helping Paws friends.

Jodi and Copper

Jodi and Copper

Helping Paws graduate Jodi Nelson passed away peacefully at her home on January 7, 2016. Jodi had been involved with Helping Paws as both a graduate and enthusiastic volunteer for more than 20 years. Jodi lived life to the fullest. During team training classes, Jodi was a mentor and a cheerleader to her classmates. We are blessed that we knew her. She is now reunited with her service dogs Maggie May and Juni, who definitely showered her with kisses.

Jazz

Jazz, Chad Wood’s service dog, passed away in July, 2015. Jazz was gentle, fun-loving, goofy at times, a buddy with Chad and Kristine’s cat and Chad’s faithful service dog who went with him to work daily. Jazz traveled many places around the country with Chad and Christine. In addition to being missed by Chad Wood and Christine Fossum, she is also missed by her foster home trainers, Louise & Jon Speck.

Tanna

Tanna

Tanna was Deb Vikander’s service dog who passed away in July, 2015. Tanna was sweet, affectionate, and sometimes a bit pushy when she didn’t want to let Deb knit or when she would wake Deb up very early, like 4:30 am. Deb used her for stability when walking, lots of retrieving, and for safety when alone. Missing Tanna are Deb and her son, Adam Vikander, and Tanna’s foster home trainers: Carrie & Jim Heyerdahl and the Darleen & David Lindgren family.

Rue

Rue

Recently retired as Tara Wirtjes service dog, Rue passed away in October, 2015. Rue was Tara’s second service dog and she was spunky and fun-loving. Tara taught her tricks to keep Rue busy but she was also a lifesaver for Tara. For example, Rue retrieved the keys numerous times when Tara dropped them on the floor in her van. As she aged, Rue grew afraid of thunderstorms. During a storm, she managed to open the apartment door and the building door and found her way to a neighbor’s garage where she spent the night on a couch. The neighbor was quite surprised to find Tara in the garage and we were all incredibly relieved to find her after searching for her. Rue had breakfast at the neighbor’s while waiting for us to pick her up. Rue is missed by Tara, her foster home trainer, Jane EckesEtzel and many family members and friends.

Emma

Emma

Emma, Mary Weinand’s beloved service dog, passed away in October, 2015 after enjoying a brief retirement with her foster home trainer family, the Steve & Judy Michurski family. Emma enriched Mary’s life as her service dog. Quoting from Mary: “She was there to cuddle in bed with me when the day ended…and she enriched all the minutes in between.  Every outing was easier with Emma at my side. Her help with tasks and emotional support were never taken for granted.  Never.  Every day I still look to pet her, say her name, and miss her so much even I can’t find words to express it. I lost a best friend. Dog lovers understand.” 

Lynne and Lulu

Lynne and Lulu

Lulu, Lynn Dorr’s service dog, passed away in December, 2015. We sometimes are struck by the “unfairness” of life. Lulu developed significant health issues shortly after she was placed as Lynn’s service dog. Unfortunately, Lulu also was hit with lymphoma this fall. Lynn gave Lulu the very BEST care and love and we thank Lynn for being Lulu’s person. Lulu was the sweetest of dogs and we send our condolences to Lynn, her family and friends and to Liz & Joe Gadbois, Lulu’s foster home trainers.

Mandie

Mandie

Mandie, Gina Lytle’s retired service dog, passed away in December, 2015. Mandie was a beautiful dog and she was precious to Gina, to the family who adopted her on her retirement, and to her foster home trainer family of Deb DeMeester & Paul Schalekamp.

Charlie

Charlie

We lost Charlie, Tyler Olson’s service dog in December, 2015. Here is what Tyler posted on Facebook about Charlie: “My buddy passed this morning. Thanks everyone for your continued prayers and thoughts! The best thing about Charlie was his love. He not only shared it with me, but with anyone who met him. I’m heartbroken, but glad he’s at peace! Not sure where I’d be in life if I didn’t have My Charlie through my best and worst days after my injury. Time to grieve, but also celebrate the life of the BEST DOG EVER!” Since Charlie and Tyler are such diehard Vikings fans, Tyler bought a Legacy Brick in Charlie’s memory. It’ll be placed outside the new Vikings stadium! Charlie is missed by Tyler, Tyler’s family, hundreds of Charlie fans and friends and his foster home trainer family, Judy & Steve Michurski family.

Holly

Holly

Holly, a Helping Paws career change dog, passed away in October, 2015. She hit the jackpot on her career change as she got to live on a farm. She loved to play with sticks, chase the horses, and snuggle with her pal, Steve. She is missed by Steve Crownover and her foster home trainers Pete Markham & Carina Rew.

Angie and Dozer

Angie and Dozer

In January, 2016, we said goodbye to Angie Jesme’s service dog, Dozer. Dozer, a sweet, soft dog was perfect for Angie. Dozer was with Angie as she married Mike, moved to a new home, and took public transportation to Angie’s work in downtown Minneapolis every day. Angie works downtown for Gray Plant Mooty law firm and Dozer was adored by all of the lawyers in the firm. He had special walkers and an “I want to be a Dozer walker” waiting list. We always called Dozer the “George Clooney” of the Golden Retrievers, he was a good looking dog! Dozer is deeply missed by Angie and Mike Jesme, family, friends and his foster home trainers, Marie & Dave Heikkila.

People and dogs, we miss you all—you enrich our lives. Thanks for the memories.

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  2016-02-07 Buzz x Terra-288

The F Litter  (Buzz x Terra) arrived Sunday, February 7!  Four male puppies who we hope will offer abiding friendship, increasing freedom, and a future of independence for someone with a physical disability or a veteran with PTSD.

Terra with hearts

In this month of love recognition—Valentine’s Day in human terms and Unconditional Love Day in dog terms—we encourage you to help us spread the love a little wider.

The F Litter is the newest addition to our Blue Coat Benefactor sponsorship program, an opportunity to help us fund the growth, development, training, and placement of these dogs who have a destiny to change lives for the better. For more information on sponsoring these four puppies, check the “Donate” link on our website.

And while we can’t duplicate that new puppy smell here, we will be sure to provide photos as this foursome get their bearings and grow.

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…and  absolutely EVERYONE is invited to bid!

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Great items from artwork to car care, health and fitness, restaurant, hotel and vacation certificates, sportswear, and a full range in between. More than 200 items available and an extra day—it’s Leap Year!—to put your plans in motion. Opportunities to sponsor the brand new F Litter of puppies or contribute to the Alpha/Gator Emergency Vet Fund are also included.

Feel free to invite friends and family to bid, and have fun! The auction is open until 10:00 pm February 29. Please click this link to take a look and bid: Helping Paws Bidding for Good Auction

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“How could I give the dog up?” is one of the first questions pondered by someone interested in becoming a foster home trainer for Helping Paws. A natural feeling, and an inquiry that will be asked of a foster home trainer many times during the 2 to 2 ½ years of training that is takes to raise a service dog. After all, our foster home trainers love dogs, and they expend a lot of time and energy fostering in preparation for that dog to become a service dog for an individual with physical disabilities or a veteran with PTSD.

One of our foster home trainers, Rob, puts it best: “I’m not giving the dog up, I’m giving the dog to.” Helping Paws foster home trainers are giving a gift like no other…the gift of independence. Think of it. An individual is able to go to work because his service dog opens doors for him, literally and figuratively. Another individual has the option of living on her own because her service dog retrieves items for her. A veteran can now coach his kid’s baseball team because his service dog reduces the effects of hypervigilence.

Another foster home trainer, Lynne, describes it this way – “where else could you give the gift of a best friend.” Our graduates tell us this time and time again. Without a dog, they are invisible to the public. With a dog by their side, however, they are noticed. Are included in the community. Are seen as people. Service dogs open doors, literally and figuratively.

Foster home trainers are the heart and soul of Helping Paws. Without them, we could not fulfill our mission of furthering people’s independence and quality of life through the use of assistance dogs. Take a look at our slide show of graduate teams at the end of this post, and consider joining us as a foster home trainer.

We invite you to our open houses on March 2 and 3. Talk with our current foster home trainers, and see their dogs in their training classes. Meet our graduates, and hear how these dogs have impacted their lives for the better.

Wednesday March 2, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

Thursday March 3, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

Helping Paws, 630 – 12th Avenue South, Hopkins

For more information, visit www.helpingpaws.org or call 952-988-9359 x65.

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Helping Paws breeding dog, Callahan

Litters of Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever     puppies will debut later in 2016. They will need Foster Home Trainers!

 

 

Foster Home Trainers come in all shapes, sizes, and family configurations.

You can learn more at one of our Foster Home Trainer Open Houses:

Wednesday, March 2, 6:30-8:30 pm

Thursday, March 3, 5:30-7:30 pm

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Watch a training class and meet some of our dogs-in-training. Visit with current foster home trainers and hear firsthand about this amazing volunteer opportunity.

 

 

 

 

 

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Have some pizza!

 

 

 

 

EVERYONE WELCOME! No RSVP needed.

630 12th Avenue South, Hopkins

www.helpingpaws.org

Questions: 952-988-9359, ext 65.

 

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Where can you come to learn about fostering service dogs and actually help train them during a class?  Helping Paws, that’s where! People curious about being foster home trainers had the opportunity to attend open houses at Helping Paws last week. Current foster home trainers partnered with guests, allowing the visitors to work with the dogs. The foster home trainers talked about their experiences and answered questions.

We were honored to have two graduates with us at the open houses: Corbett and service dog Rocky, together for eight years; and Chad and Truman, just matched and looking forward to team training in April. Corbett and Chad generously shared their experiences with the guests and answered questions about what it is like to have a service dog.

Thank you foster home trainers, and graduates Corbett and Chad, for providing such a fun and welcoming environment for our guests!

Photos courtesy of Scott Kleckner and Sally Grottini.

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The “Monday night” Big Dog class took their final field trip last week. These two-plus years, from Perfect Puppy to Big Dog, have flown by. The dogs are ready for new adventures now, and Helping Paws salutes their foster home trainers for all their hard work in training these amazing Golden Retrievers.

Here is a look at the Briggs x Hope litter at one year of age, participating in a dog exchange and celebrating their first birthday.

Chad bonds with new partner Truman.

Chad bonds with new partner Truman.

 

 

 

Truman, an Isaac x Elise offspring, works with new partner Chad Wood.

 

 

 

Jaya and Lorrie

Lorrie with Jaya…learning from each other

 

Jaya, also from Isaac x Elise, and Lorrie show us the communication between a dog and foster home trainer.

 

And here they are, on the last field trip.

last field trip

Many thanks to our foster home trainers: Jenny Beem (Zara), Mary Tiegen (Elska), Corrine McCuskey (Brinkley), Hannah Hoefs and Heidi Hoefs (Sybil), Lori Braun-Ruschmeyer (Maui), Jolene Jackelen (Bauer), Lorrie O’Neal (Jaya), Sara Mullaney (Truman), Mary Ann Mead (Foster), Jane Ward (Gina), Diane Crannell and Nini Crannell (Maple).

Thanks as well to instructor Sue Kliewer, assistant Lori Bartels, and Chad Wood, who while awaiting his successor service dog participated in class and helped these dogs learn first-hand what it is like to be a service dog.

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take me home_SMM9600The big day finally arrived! Last Friday the Buzz x Terra Golden Retriever puppies went home with their foster home trainers. These four pups are beginning the journey toward becoming service dogs for individuals with physical disabilities or military veterans with PTSD.

Helping Paws is fortunate to have volunteer caretaker homes who foster the mama dog, whelp the puppies with the help of staff, and then provide seven weeks of care and socialization to the litter.

Jane_Moelter

Jane Moelter

 

 

Terra was raised and trained by Jane Moelter, and is also a demo dog for Helping Paws. Jane EckesEtzel, who has fostered a few dogs for Helping Paws,  whelped and cared for the litter with Jane M’s assistance. Thank you Jane and Jane!

 

 

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Jane EckesEtzel

 

 

We are grateful for breeders in the community who donate the studs for our litters. These breeders set the standard for excellence in the breed that shows in the conformation and temperament of our puppies. Buzz is owned by Dallas Babcock. Thank you Dallas!

 

The Buzz x Terra litter is the “F” for Freedom litter. Their litter names are Fidyjohn (named after Jane EckesEtzel’s 102-year-old father), Balsam, Fraser and Juniper. The foster home trainers give the puppies their permanent names, all of which will begin with the letter F, and reports are those names are Fulton, Fletcher, Finnegan, and Flynn!

Our volunteer foster home trainers are the heart and soul of Helping Paws. We are pleased to welcome back repeat fosters Lynne Raymo and Alan Kezmoh,  Ann Prosser and David Nightingale, and LeAnn and Perry Juel. These foster home trainers all trained litter mates of Terra. We are excited to welcome new foster home trainers Lynn and Tom Davis. Lynn and Tom are long–time supporters of Helping Paws and have been looking forward to expanding their involvement.

And the adventure begins!

 

 

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By Brenda Hawley, Volunteer Coordinator
At Helping Paws, this is an important week: it is National Volunteer Week!
foster home trainers and graduate team Vicky and Olive

Foster home trainers and graduate team Vicky and Olive

Barnes & Noble w/John, Karen & Delta

Barnes & Noble w/John, Karen & Delta

Helping Paws would not be able to change so many people’s lives without the help of literally hundreds of volunteers. From people who volunteer only a few hours a year to those who tirelessly give countless hours, each and every one of you makes Helping Paws a success!
Chester x Callahan puppy send-off

Chester x Callahan puppy send-off

If we could measure our appreciation we would, but lacking that large a measuring device, please accept that we sincerely appreciate your time, energy and support of our organization.
Galaxy Drive In field trip

Galaxy Drive In field trip

THANK YOU VOLUNTEERS!