At Canine Helpers we emphasise the importance of proper socialisation of our dogs. Our dogs will encounter other animals, adults and small children in public places, and should be comfortable with all those situations, not just their Handlers. We regularly hold social occasions including Board members, Trainers and Handlers to facilitate training, advise Handlers if they have any issues with their dog, and to facilitate PLAY. Some photos of the dogs at play follow:
White Swiss Shepherd, d.o.b. 04.09.08. Donated by Maggie Smith of La Raj Kennels.
Baron has just celebrated his first birthday, and can hardly be called a puppy any more, especially as he has just about reached his full height! Being a White Swiss Shepherd, Baron is a big boy!! Now that he is older, Baron has started learning some more difficult tasks, such as helping with the laundry, opening and closing doors and pulling a wheelchair.
Baron will be staying with his puppy raiser family for a little while longer, as he receives further training from trainers Lisa-Maree Price and Cyn D Fisher. Baron's puppy raiser, Paula, and her family have worked hard to ensure Baron is a healthy, happy and confident young dog, who enjoys working with people and learning new things.He has received basic obedience training and a lot of socialisation to different environments and situations, so that he won't get overly distracted when faced with a new place or activity.
For his work as a Service Dog, Baron will be learning to:
open and close doors and drawers
fetch a ringing phone
retrieve dropped items
operate lift buttons and crossing signals
pull his handler's wheelchair
help with household chores like doing the laundry
summoning assistance for his handler if required.
Baron's training will be tailored to suit his handler's individual needs. However, even when Baron and his handler graduate as a Service Dog Team, Baron will continue his training, and will learn new tasks if his handler's needs change over time.
None of this would be possible without contributions from many sources:
Our beautiful Baron was donated to Canine Helpers as a puppy, by Magie Smith of La Raj Kennels.
Paula Edrich and family have been Baron's puppy raiser since he was 11 weeks old.
Trainers Lisa-Maree Price and Cyn D Fisher have volunteered their time for Baron's training.
Financial support from The Rotary Club of Brisbane made it possible for Canine Helpers to bring Baron into our assistance dog training program.
Individual donors and sponors who contribute towards the cost of raising and training Baron, and other learner assistance dogs in our program.
All our dogs are trained for obedience and for assisting people with a disability. We train the dogs to the Assistance Dogs International standard and then try to meet the individual needs of our Handlers who may have differing levels of physical disability or have expressed a desire for assistance in an uncommon activity. The photos below indicate a number of our training activities and some individual skills that we trained the dogs to perform at the request of their Handler.
This lovely English Cocker Spaniel kindly donated by Flamebeau kennels has presented a first for Canine Helpers. Dexter, with his trainer Nicole Hargreaves, achieved his Companion Dog obedience title with the Canine Control Council during his time preparing to become a Service Dog. Competing in Obedience Trials has helped improve Dexter’s ability to work under high distraction and to do so without food available. These skills are very valuable in his new placement as a Service Dog and we are very proud to say that Dexter is the first Canine Helpers-trained dog to get an obedience title. The staff here at Canine Helpers (and Dexter's new owner) would also like to take this opportunity to say "NO, Cocker Spaniels are NOT stupid!!!"
Me and Dexter
Dexter was placed with me in April 2005, and we've been inseparable ever since. While Dexter only does a few of the long list of tasks that service dogs can be trained to do, what he does for me is vital and keeps me independent and mobile.
Mostly, Dexter picks up things that I've dropped or can't reach. This can be anything from a 5c piece to a large bottle of water, but is most often my wallet (even when I don't know I've dropped it), keys and money. He can get things that have rolled under a table, or even under my wheelchair or my car. He carries it for me until I can take it from him, and he'll either sit and hold it for me to take, or will hop up with his front feet on my lap so I can take it from him higher up.
He also opens and closes doors and drawers at home and at work. All of these save me from bending, leaning and twisting, movements that I find difficult and painful. He also has a harness so he can pull me around places like shopping centres and hospitals (a smooth floor), so I don't have to push.
Having Dexter has made a huge difference to me. Shortly after I had him placed with me I was able to resume full-time work. I have been able to do a lot more since we've been together, including quite a bit of travel. Dexter has been on planes, trains and automobiles, ferries and chair lifts! We even went skiing!
Having Dexter to help me means I can save my efforts for more of the fun things, and we've had a lot of fun together. Dexter also makes sure I take him to the dog park, so we both get some exercise, and we have met a lot of great people in our time together.
I wouldn't be without him, and I can't thank Canine Helpers enough for giving him to me.