Toys & Training

Native service canine coach will get go-ahead from province

“I wouldn’t even say I’m doing this for a dwelling. I’m doing it as a result of I need to assist individuals. I sincerely imply that.”

A St. Albert-based coach’s firm has been accepted to supply service canine coaching as a part of a provincial authorities effort to extend the availability of service canine in Alberta.

Alberta’s minister of group and social providers, Jason Luan, introduced June 24 that the province will present $300,000 in grant funding to 9 organizations with the aim of rising the provision of service canine within the province.

“This can decrease the associated fee for Albertans with disabilities to acquire certified service canine for his or her wants,” Luan mentioned on the June 24 press convention.

“In reality, with the funding and extra organizations, as much as 80 service canine a yr will be certified to serve in Alberta,” Luan mentioned.

As a part of his announcement, the minister additionally mentioned three new organizations are accepted to qualify service canine, together with former St. Albert resident John Dugas’s Holdfast K9.

Dugas, head coach for the family-owned and operated Holdfast K9, has been coaching service canine for the previous few years. As a part of the charity he chairs — Brave Companions — he gives service canine to veterans and first responders.

To practice service canine underneath a brand new firm title, Dugas needed to apply to the province to be accepted as a coach once more. Dugas mentioned the method was easy, due to his years of expertise coaching service canine and dealing with different coaching organizations.

“I’ve handled Brave Companion’s utility … so mine was very easy,” he mentioned.

Dugas, a military fight engineer for 30 years earlier than retiring in 2008, mentioned he often receives twice as many calls from members of the general public who don’t qualify for Brave Companions providers, however who’re in search of service canine.

“I made a decision possibly I ought to begin my very own enterprise,” Dugas mentioned.

With Holdfast K9, Dugas gives “proprietor coaching,” which means he takes shoppers who need their very own canine licensed, and he’ll practice each the proprietor and their canine to put together them for the provincial authorities evaluation.

“What occurs is I assist them practice their canine for a yr, or year-and-a-half, relying on how lengthy it takes, they usually e book the check with the province,” Dugas mentioned.

“I’d say most likely 70 to 80 per cent will cross, and the remaining won’t,” Dugas mentioned. “All of it relies on the canine.”

Dugas mentioned he lately moved to an acreage in Parkland County to increase Holdfast K9’s providers. The enterprise gives obedience coaching, behaviour modification, a “board and practice” program, and now proprietor coaching for service canine.

Dugas mentioned he additionally makes customized canine crates.

“If somebody would have instructed me six years in the past that is what I’d be doing for a dwelling, I’d’ve laughed at them,” he mentioned.

“I wouldn’t even say I’m doing this for a dwelling, I’m doing it as a result of I need to assist individuals. I sincerely imply that.”

Dugas mentioned he’s at the moment within the technique of finishing a working-dog coaching practicum. As soon as he completes the practicum, Dugas mentioned he’ll have the ability to practice narcotics canine, safety canine, and bomb-sniffing canine. 

When requested how he turned all for coaching working canine, Dugas mentioned, “it simply form of appeared the best way to go along with me.”

“I’m truly extra naturally drawn to that aspect of the home from my time within the military working with canine abroad … however I do just like the medical service canine work.” 

Dugas believes the addition of funding and newly certified organizations will make a distinction in Alberta, the place he says the present demand for service canine is “insane.”

“I’d get calls from individuals who’d say, ‘We’re calling these organizations and nobody is answering the telephone,’ or, ‘They’ve a four-year ready listing.'”

He mentioned he thinks the funding will make a distinction, “possibly not a giant distinction, however you may solely eat the elephant one chunk at a time [and] we’ve got to begin someplace.”

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