Love is Coming Home
Here at Article, we love dogs, and we’re big believers in supporting our communities. From February 1st-14th, Article will be donating $10 from every purchase made to PADS and Guide Dogs of America. Give the gift of (therapeutic) puppy love.
We love dogs.
We bring them to work, we buy them special treats, we have them fur-test (read: lounge around on) our furniture. That’s why this Valentine’s Day, we wanted to show some love to humanity’s number one fan: dogs.
One Article dog is particularly worth celebrating. Hero is a nine-month old black lab with a mission: get trained to help humans. As a canine-member of Pacific Assistance Dogs Society (PADS), Hero and his volunteer Heather take on a rigorous training program to prepare him to assist a human with physical or mental challenges. That sounds like a cause worth supporting.
From February 1st-14th, Article will be donating $10 from every purchase made to PADS and to the Guide Dogs of America. Meet the dog that inspired the campaign, and Heather, his trusty human companion.
Heather, we’d like to start from the beginning. What made you want to raise an assistance dog?
This is my first time volunteering with PADS, or any assistance dog organization. I first learned about families raising assistance dogs when I was in middle school. I read a novel about a family who raised service dogs, and I just knew that that was something I wanted to do. At the time, we weren’t that close to any assistance dog volunteer opportunities, so I added raising an assistance dog to my bucket list. Fast forward a few years: I’d moved to the Lower Mainland, and was really near a PADS volunteer office!
It’s a huge commitment — can you explain exactly what your responsibility to Hero entails?
My time raising Hero can range from 18 months to two years. I was placed with him when he was about nine weeks old. His breeder-caretaker family — the ones who look after his mom and raise her pups from birth to eight or nine weeks — did a tremendous amount of work to socialize the puppies. It can be anything from toys that make weird noises, to tarps or boxes that might feel funny under their paws. The caretaker-families also start the puppies with basic skills, like kennel and house-training, and building independence so they can transition to their raiser comfortably.
From the very first day Hero and I met, he’s with me almost everywhere I go. To work, stores, sporting events, camping, on public transit, and more. My commitment to him means that I do my best to ensure he experiences plenty of new environments, including different surfaces, sounds, sights, smells, and people. We go for weekly puppy classes at PADS where we learn training techniques, and then take that knowledge home with us and apply it in everyday life.
How did Hero get his name?
Every litter of PADS puppies has a theme. Hero’s litter was born on April 7, 2017, around the time of the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge, so the litter’s theme is “Vimy Virtues.” His siblings include: Mercy, Prudence, Spirit, Valour, and Freedom.
How much support do you get from the PADS organization?
We get an amazing amount of support from PADS! As I mentioned, we have weekly puppy classes to learn new skills. The PADS trainers are also available for one-on-one meetings if we need additional assistance. The whole community of PADS trainers, raisers, sitters, and other volunteers is truly phenomenal. They’re all very supportive of each other, and are always willing to lend a hand or offer advice if need be, and, of course, they’re always up for puppy play dates.
Describe a day in the life of Heather and Hero.
On a typical work day, Hero and I will walk to work (rain or shine — preferably shine though). Hero will sleep at my desk while I work, and on breaks we’ll go outside for a walk or play at the park or have a short training session. After work we usually bus home. We’ll do some training in the evening, or perhaps go grocery shopping or do other errands. Hero will play with his toys in the evening and we’ll take care of tasks like nail-trimming and teeth-brushing and whatnot. On our days off, we like to go to the off-leash dog trails with other PADS puppies and have a good walk through the forest!
Part of training Hero is having to let him go to his new family or client. How do you feel about that day?
It’s definitely going to be sad saying goodbye to Hero. I’ve been with him every day since he came into my life. There are going to be more than a couple tears! But I also knew coming into this that I would have to part ways with him eventually, so they’re going to be both tears of sadness as well tears of happiness. It’s rewarding to know that all this hard work and time spent is going to change someone’s life so much. If there aren’t puppy raisers to raise, train, and socialize these dogs while they’re young, then there aren’t going to be assistance dogs to provide life-changing support to those who need it. I’m looking forward to seeing Hero continue to grow and mature and I can’t wait to see how his training benefits his future owner.
Want to carry some love wherever you go? We made two of our office dogs, Indy the yellow lab and Kallie the Mexi-mix, into phone wallpapers. To save, simply tap and hold the image, and then select “Save Image.” The picture will be saved to your phone’s camera roll.