The journey towards heroism begins here! At 8 weeks, the pups are placed in new homes with volunteer Puppy Raisers. In these caring environments, the pups will be socialized and exposed to many of the places and situations they will experience later in life. Through a combination of individual instruction and formal obedience classes with their litter mates, the pups begin to develop the discipline needed to earn their wings. Our training staff carefully evaluates their progress during this crucial phase of development. Studies in animal behaviour have shown that dogs that are taught skills at an early age retain their training better, are more relaxed and confident, and will mature more quickly. We consider all of these aspects while our young pilots are earning their "wings". Our puppies remain with their Puppy Raisers until they enter Adult Training at 12 to 14 months of age.
If they have successfully completed Puppy program, the candidates move into the Adult training. These dogs attend our Training Centre daily for intensive training by our training staff. For the next 6 to 8 months, they are closely monitored to determine which role they are best suited for: Autism, Guide, Service or Therapy. Their temperaments, hips and eyes are tested, to ensure that they have the physical and emotional health required for a life in service. Unlike other programs, our Adult dogs remain in volunteer homes during the evening and weekends. At DWW, we believe in the benefits of "hand rearing", and our dogs show it!
All of the hard work has been done, skills have been acquired, and our dogs are ready to fly! During the last month or so of their Adult program, our training staff have matched the dog to a particular client. This is an involved process and we attempt to match not only skills needed by the client, but also that the dog's personality and manner of working will be well-suited to their new companion. For three weeks, our personalized, in-home instruction helps the client establish a partnership with their dog in familiar surroundings. We ensure that the client is familiar with caring, feeding and exercising of their dog. This unique method of team training enables a smooth transition to a solid friendship and solid working relationship.
At last, the dog is ready to graduate and join an elite group of heroic hounds known as Dogs with Wings. Dog and client join with staff, volunteers, friends and family to celebrate this wonderful achievement in a formal graduation ceremony, complete with cap and diploma! Service jackets, formal credentials and all required equipment are provided so that the new team is ready to begin their life together. These amazing animals are truly everyday heroes that make dreams take flight!
At DWW, we know that with time, care and the proper ongoing assistance, the new team will be able to work happily and successfully for years. Our staff keep in regular contact with our clients and receive annual reports on their health, condition and working habits. All of these things help to make the new partnership a long term success.