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Lending a Paw and Making a Difference by Puppy Raising for Autism Dog Services

Local NewsLending a Paw and Making a Difference by Puppy Raising for Autism Dog Services

by ADS Fund Development Manager

“This profound change in Laina’s life is a testament to Reva’s incredible training and the dedication of the people who raised her. The love and care they poured into Reva are now part of our family, making Laina’s world a better, kinder place. Words can’t fully express the gratitude we feel for these remarkable people and the extraordinary dog they’ve given us. Reva is not just a companion; she’s a lifeline, a source of strength, and a reason for Laina to embrace each new day with hope,” Jennifer, mom of Laina and service dog Reva.

As a local Brantford organization, Autism Dog Services never gets tired of hearing these types of family testimonials. Since 2007, we are proud to have placed over 150 service dogs like Reva to families who have a child with autism like Laina or other developmental disorders. Our focus as a charitable organization is to provide highly trained service dogs to assist individuals with autism living in most parts of Southwestern Ontario.

Second time around puppy raiser, Gerda, with Walter and Wesley. Photo courtesy Autism Dog Services.

Our puppy raisers or volunteer fosters are the nucleus of our organization and we owe the success of our service dogs in training to them! Foster families are needed to socialize and provide basic training to puppies for up to 12-24 months and sometimes longer depending on the dog’s maturity prior to formal training with ADS certified trainers. The key purpose of the foster puppy program is to socialize and train puppies to prepare them for their lives as working service dogs. Volunteer foster puppy raisers are responsible for taking ADS puppies out in public in their service dog in-training jacket often to expose the puppies to unfamiliar environments, sights, sounds and smells such as shopping malls, movie theatres, parks, playgrounds, buses, trains, grocery stores, restaurants, classrooms and also around people of different ages.

A family with a service dog trained specifically to work with youth with autism grants opportunities for them to safely participate in school and community activities, provides a companion for those less likely to have community friends, keeps them safe from harm, injury, and even mortality. The dogs become an integral part of the family and aid in healthy family dynamics, youth development and continuous growth allowing extensive opportunities to limit risk, and seamlessly connect and integrate with their communities. 

New puppy raiser Cassandra with Kenzie. Photo courtesy Autism Dog Services.

What is required of our puppy raiser foster volunteers? Volunteers are given extensive support during the puppy raising process. As well as bi-weekly puppy classes, volunteers are matched with a trainer who will provide 1-1 support in the home and on public outings. Puppy classes are held on four different days of the week in 4 locations: Guelph, Cambridge, Ancaster (all evening classes) and Brantford (daytime class). All food, vet care and most equipment is provided. 

We have opportunities for volunteers to work with older pups (6-12 months) as opposed to beginning with an 8-week-old puppy for those who would prefer to work with a slightly older puppy. Foster families or otherwise known as puppy raisers generally have the service dogs in training for 12 to 24 months before they are recalled into advanced training.

First time fosters, Alicia and Ethan, with Derby. Photo courtesy Autism Dog Services.

Current puppy raiser Megan states that “puppy raising with ADS has been a journey filled with so much learning, laughter, and love. Each dog that I’ve had the joy of welcoming into my home and my heart has taught me lessons I’ll never forget. I’ve had the pleasure of raising and learning from raising three puppies. I have also been so lucky to learn from the ADS staff. I have had the incredible experience of being supported by every 1-on-1 trainer and I am so grateful for the mentorship and support. Raising the puppies has been the most rewarding journey of my life.”

So please consider “lending a paw” for this amazing opportunity to be a foster family or puppy raiser if you are retired/semi retired, stay at home parent, post secondary student, young active family, work from home employees, individuals with flexible schedules or can take the dog to work or school.

Photo courtesy Autism Dog Services.

Further questions regarding this opportunity can be directed to Janine Brubacher at janine@autismdogservices.ca

To learn more about the impact that ADS makes to a family, please check out this brief video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6rZofLeWHo

Website www.autismdogservices.ca

Facebook  autismdogservices

Address  102 North Park St. Brantford ON N3R 4K1

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