Help Us Win

DWW Ziggy
CanadaHelps is running The Great Canadian Giving Challenge in the month of June. Every dollar in donations made to us in June is one entry for us to win a prize of $10,000.00. Additional details may be found at: . You can donate at our donation page at CanadaHelps by clicking: .
Help us to change a life for the better!

Around the Training Centre
DWW is growing! New to the team this month is Cathy Cross, who has joined our organization as Fund Development Manager. Cathy brings 15 years’ experience to Dogs with Wings having been with The Lung Association, Telus World of Science, Bissell Centre, and the Canadian Cancer Society where she helped each organization to meet its financial goals. One of the many obligations we have to our clients is to remain financially healthy and a professional of Cathy’s caliber will help us meet that challenge. Next time you are in the office, drop by and say hello.

We’re also pleased to announce that Dawn MacDonald has joined DWW as a member of our training staff. Dawn is currently on staff at the Edmonton Humane Society and a Kennel Assistant with us. She will take over Level 1 assessments and skills upgrading from Lise Benoit, who is relocating to Gagetown, NB with her family. A la prochaine, Lise, and welcome, Dawn!

We have been working quietly in the background soliciting some large initial donations to our Capital Campaign and we can now report that we are 25% of the way to our goal of 1 million dollars! You can take part in this legacy project. Contact John Wheelwright at the office to learn how you can change a life for the better.

The annual Volunteer Appreciation Picnic and Annual General Meeting is Thursday, June 25, 2015, at Dogs with Wings’ Edmonton location. All are invited to attend this event. The grill is open at 5:00 with the AGM beginning at 6:00 pm. Volunteers, clients’ family, and friends are welcome!

In preparation for our AGM, Dogs with Wings is seeking community leaders to sit as members of our Board of Directors. The Board sets policy and provides strategic direction for the organization. We are particularly interested in hearing from people living in Calgary, Red Deer, Grande Prairie, and Edmonton. For more details, please contact John at 780.944.8011.

Planned Giving

Training Assistants and Dogs
You’ve been a modest donor to Dogs with Wings over the years; you share our mission to improve the lives of Albertan living with physical disabilities by providing them with highly skilled guide and assistance dogs and the ongoing support the client will need over the years. You’ve been careful with your money and you want to leave a lasting legacy that will benefit our clients into the future.

A planned gift is a charitable donation arranged during a donor’s lifetime, leaving some of their estate to Dogs with Wings. Your donation can be made with a specific purpose in mind or you can allow Dogs with Wings to use its best judgment on where to apply your money.

And it doesn’t have to be money. You can designate Dogs with Wings as an owner or beneficiary of a part or a whole of an insurance policy. You can designate Dogs with Wings to an existing policy or on one that is newly purchased. You can also designate that we receive a share of your qualified retirement plan, or real estate or land and still retain use of the property yourself during your lifetime.

There are so many ways to ensure continued independence, safety and integration for Albertans living with disabilities. We’d be pleased to answer any of your questions. Please contact John Wheelwright at 780.944.8011 for further information.

April News

DWW Webster
We Recognize our Satellite Foster Programs
You could be forgiven for thinking that Dogs with Wings is an Edmonton organization. Our office and training centre are located here; all of our adult dogs in training live locally, and the largest puppy program is in the metropolitan region. But that’s not the whole story. Since its inception in 1996, we have served clients from all regions of the province and as we have grown, we have established a volunteer system that supports our dogs in training in the same way. This column is dedicated to our wonderful volunteers across Alberta who are raising a dog through Dogs with Wings.

Recently, we went to Camrose and met a group of 30 people interested in meeting Dogs with Wings and learning more about our life-changing programs for Albertans with disabilities. It all began with a phone call asking if we had puppies in Camrose. Off we went to speak to local families about our puppies. Someone knew of a place where we could hold our classes; someone else suggested a couple of local trainers who could assist with leading classes. A local veterinarian is on board to provide care and, so it goes – the organic growth of another successful puppy program in another Alberta community.

Our Camrose experience matches what we have done in Grande Prairie, Red Deer and Calgary. It brings to a total over 200 people who share our vision of increased independence, safety, and integration for Albertans with disabilities. To our satellite program trainers and our volunteers everywhere, we salute you!

2015 Graduation Date Set
Our 2015 graduates are getting ready to take the stage on Sunday, May 31st at 1:00 pm at the Chateau Louis Hotel, Kingsway Avenue, Edmonton. The closure of the Edmonton Petroleum Club has forced us to choose another venue. However, we know that this will be a meaningful event for clients, puppy and adult foster families, staff, and friends. It is also an opportunity to recognize our donors and sponsors who do so much for us. This event is free and a wonderful opportunity to meet our clients, their new canine partners and to celebrate. We’d love to see you.

DWW Celebrates the ‘Z’ Litter
DWW Madison recently gave birth to a litter of 8 yellow Labrador pups and with that, we have gone full circle through the alphabet. Since our early days, we have developed a breeding program that will serve us well into the future with a supply of good assistance dogs. An essential part of any program like ours, we are proud of our dogs. To celebrate this event, we are accepting names beginning with this letter. Send your suggestions to us via our general email address on our website contact page.

Are You a Calgary Area Runner?
Dogs with Wings has signed up for the 2015 Charity Challenge, Calgary Marathon. This event caters to a side variety of runners, from a 5k Family Fun Walk & Run, and a Kids Marathon, right up to the 50K Ultra. We can offer you free registration through a code, so please contact us at the office. Registration is all online. So gather up some friends, get some pledges, and come on out for one of the Calgary highlights of the year. The race is May 28th to May 31st, and additional details can be found at: .

The above completes our April 2015 newsletter. Read the complete newsletter, current newsletter, and archives by clicking here. To get complete and up to date news, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here.

About Dogs with Wings:
Dogs with Wings is a leader in the international community of assistance dog training schools. Our organization exists to serve people with disabilities. We work collaboratively, and in partnership with other organizations that provide assistance dogs to people with disabilities.

Contact Us:
Dogs with Wings Assistance Dog Society | 780.944.8011 | Edmonton, Alberta
Dogs with Wings Assistance Dog Society | 587.284.3647 | Calgary, Alberta

Fraud Prevention

Oakley and Jazz
Service Alberta Fraud Prevention Month
At the invitation of Service Alberta, we recently attended a media event to launch Fraud Prevention Month. This event highlighted the various types of commercial fraud often committed in Alberta. Dogs with Wings was included to draw attention to the improper use of fake identification cards and service jackets by those wishing to have their dogs accompany them in public. Legitimate guide and service dogs receive picture identification cards from the government. Our dogs in training have identification issued by Dogs with Wings. Those who pass off the family pet as a service animal face prosecution and a fine of up to $1,000 upon conviction. This situation is more serious than it might first appear. Dogs without the proper training can pose a risk not only to our clients who need their dogs but also to members of the public and fake service dogs undermine the confidence of the public that dogs wearing jackets will exhibit high standards of behaviour and can be trusted. Legitimate service dog users will never object to being asked to produce their identification.

New Teams Graduating Soon
We’ve celebrated some new teams this month, with DWW Roo, Star and Oakley leaving us to begin their forever jobs. The announcement of details for this year’s May graduation should be expected shortly. With the recent closure of the Edmonton Petroleum Club we are forced to find a new venue but we will have the final details sorted soon. This free event is open to all and is a wonderful opportunity to see the DWW team, our clients and our sponsors in action.

Pigeon Lake Sled Dog Club
The Pigeon Lake Sled Dog club donated $4,000 to us from their annual race weekend and we had the opportunity to spend some time with fellow dog lovers.

Around the Kennel

We’re back in full swing after a busy January and February is already filing up. We have 3 dogs being placed with clients this month and autism instructor Moira and Training Director Maria will be putting in long days to ensure our new clients are familiar with how their new canine partners work and how to care for them. We are very proud of all our graduates and these 3 are no exception. Look for them on the graduation stage in May.

ServiceMaster LogoWe welcome new Pilot Guide Sponsor, ServiceMaster of Edmonton to the DWW family. Service Master specializes in disaster cleanup & restoration and was the recipient of a 2013 Consumer Choice Award for northern Alberta. Welcome, ServiceMaster of Edmonton; we appreciate your support!

This month should bring confirmation that we are about to have the “Z” litter, which means we’ve worked our way through the complete alphabet, missing only the ‘X’ litter. Our breeding program is thriving and along with our membership in a breeding cooperative, it will ensure we have a steady supply of wonderful dogs to place with the Albertans who need them. We are accepting applications now from those interested in receiving a spring puppy to raise for us. Contact Kerri Davis at 780.944.8011 for more details on this rewarding opportunity.

We hosted the second in a series of Client Evenings this month and enjoyed the presentation from Hali Fitzpatrick whose grandson uses DWW Max. A number of our puppy raisers came along to get a better idea of the difference these dogs make in the life of a child with autism.

The training centre was also the scene of a sewing bee this month and 25 people descended to make 60 puppy jackets, 71 blankets, 30 collars and 71 tugs. Also added were curtains to encourage calm in our dogs while they are waiting in the kennel areas.

Our Casino is quickly approaching on the 18th and 19th and we still have a few shifts to fill. This is an essential part of DWW’s fundraising and will mean approximately $80,000 to us. If you can help, we could sure benefit.

Organic Dog Food

Dog Food
A new year is upon us and many of us are making resolutions for self-improvement and quality of life. Maybe this year you also include your dog. More and more dog owners are choosing to feed their canine friends organic or healthier dog food. Much like human food, dog food has to meet a strict set of standards in order to be labeled as organic, whereas normal pet food simply has to meet a minimum nutrition requirement. There are great benefits to the better quality of this food, here are a few of them:

Higher Priced, but Higher Nutrition and Less Consumption

Often times people who want to feed their dog organic food change their minds on the basis of sticker price.

While it’s true that organic food is usually pricier than what you’ll find at the grocery store, your dog will need to eat less of it to get the nutrients that he needs.

This is because organic food has fewer of the fillers and “empty calories” that other foods are prone to having.

Realistically, if you can’t afford it, maybe you simply buy organic for him every other month, or for one month, or 2-3 months out of the year, or some other simple commitment. Just ensure it’s a period of time to get the greatest effects.

Fewer Digestive Problems

Many standard dog foods today contain fillers such as corn which are difficult for dogs to digest. Organic dog food is closer to a dog’s natural diet, which his digestive system has evolved to eat over millions of years. Feeding your dog a diet closer to what he eats in nature will lead to much fewer digestive problems. Remember, going to the washroom is often a good thing as he’s adjusting to healthier food. But still be aware of your dry to wet food mixture.

Fewer Allergy Problems

Many common additives are known to cause allergies in dogs, because the diet is not a natural one for them. The fewer the number of additives and fillers in a diet, the less likely your dog is to develop a food allergy.

Immune System Boost

You may have heard your doctor tell you that you should get most of your vitamins and minerals from actual healthy foods, rather than from a multivitamin or supplement. The same goes for dogs. A dog on an organic diet will be healthier and better equipped to fend off infections.

Safe Foods: Foods labeled organic are strictly regulated, and cannot contain any pesticides, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives, synthetic growth hormones, antibiotics, or genetically modified organisms. When you feed organic food to your dog, you can be sure his food won’t be contaminated with anything that is questionable or potentially unsafe.

If you think it might be time for your own dog to make the switch, you can also talk to your veterinarian about what foods he or she recommends.

Thanks to all of these benefits and many more, dog owners are increasingly opting to feed their dogs organic food. Maybe this year you give it a try.

Dog Behaviour

Dog Sitting on Snow
Does your dog now have a ‘new trick’ to show you? Is he trying to get your attention with demand barking or whining? This can be very annoying. Unfortunately this is something we have nurtured and shaped inadvertently by rewarding this behaviour.

Here are some tips for curbing these behaviours.

Ignore Bad Ones

This is difficult, but ignoring an unwanted behaviour is one way to fix it. It’s important to realize that barking or whining at you is demanding attention. So even if you correct him, this is attention. Saying “shhhhh” is attention, giving eye contact is attention, laying your hand on him is attention. Talking to him in a sweet voice is attention and worst of all giving what they want is attention while reinforcing the bark or whine. Anything you do that makes the dog think you are communicating with them when they bark is attention.

Reward Positively

If he’s barking, immediately turn away from the dog and walk away. This is puzzling to the dog when you bail on him, but it works. It doesn’t have to be walking away to the other side of the house, room, or yard but walking away 5 or 10 feet is enough. As soon as the dog is quiet give him positive verbal reinforcement and treat him.

Have Patience

Let’s say the dog’s toy rolled under the couch out of reach and it barks. Walk away, reward silence, as above. Then retrieve the toy, have the dog do something like sit. When he sits, reward him with the toy. You will need patience for this as barking has worked for the dog in the past and when you undo a behaviour it can get worse before it gets better.

Stick to It

Here is the list of the reframed behaviours and their rewards:
Sit = toy retrieval
Sit = opening the door to go
Sit = a treat, verbal praise or touch
Sit = a greetings from you

Undoing undesirable behaviours is hard work. So also make sure you nurture and reward the behaviours you like with praise, touch, or treats.

Article submitted by Moira Wegner, Autism Program Instructor, Dogs with Wings Edmonton.

Keeping Chewing in Check

Dog Chew Staulk
Chewing is a perfectly normal behaviour for puppies and adult dogs, but it can become a major problem if you can’t find a suitable way of keeping the habit under control. Puppies and dogs chew for all kinds of reasons, such as boredom relief, teething, and gaining information from the environment. Puppies in particular can chew through things at an alarming rate. Before you can address your pet’s chewing habits, it’s a good idea to understand how a dog’s mind works. Most importantly the fact that dogs don’t think the same way as humans do.

Understanding their Need to Chew

Puppies are inquisitive and may engage in some investigative chewing if they hear any unusual or high pitched sounds from unforeseen areas. They may also chew when they are hungry, especially if their regular feeding time has been delayed, or if they smell spilled food. It is therefore important to give your dog plenty of suitable chewing material and mental stimulation. Once again, one of the best overall things you can do for your dog is get him his exercise and social interaction.

Set Boundaries

If you give your dog an old pair of shoes to chew, it is not going to know the difference between an old pair of shoes and your brand new pair by the door. Stuffed toys will also look the same as the corner of your sofa as far as your dog is concerned. To ensure that your puppy understands what it can and can’t chew in your home, you will need to be prepared to set out some important guidelines for it to follow. A second dog won’t necessarily keep him busy and not chewing. If boundaries haven’t been set, you may end up having two dogs that chew everything in sight instead of one.

Specific Areas

Make sure that your dog is never left unattended until it has learnt to follow certain household rules. You may need to initially house your dog in a safe room, travel crate, or other segregated area when you are unable to watch it carefully or need to leave it alone in the house.

When setting boundaries for your dog, it is important to remember that you should never smack or shout at it for chewing. Your dog may then grow up to be shy and fearful of people. It may even encourage your pet to chew even more in an attempt to calm itself down.

Gently correct your dog’s behaviour by trying to get its attention away from the object it is chewing by offering it a more suitable alternative. Never be tempted to wrestle with your dog over a particular object, as this will only end up turning the situation into a game. If possible, take the offending object away and put it out of sight so that your companion is no longer tempted to chew it.

You could try spraying the areas you don’t want your dog to chew with apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. This can also be sprayed onto items of old clothing to direct your puppy’s attention away from areas like your sofa and chairs, but do so at your own risk.

Choose the Right Toys

Always make sure that any toys you purchase for your dog are safe and non-toxic. Your dog may prefer one particular type of toy over another, so it may be a case of trial and error until you find the most suitable toys. Once you find a particular type of toy that appeals to your dog, buy more of the same type.

Hollow rubber toys are often a good idea for dogs, as you can hide treats inside that will help to keep them occupied and as cited in a previous article, ‘work’ for their food. Teaching your dog to fetch toys is also a good way of encouraging it to play with the toys you provide for it.

Remember that it is necessary to spend as much time as possible playing with your dog, as this will help to keep it happy, occupied, and eventually too tired to engage in any more unwanted chewing.

Your Dog’s Body Language

Dog Face
You probably know when your dog is happy since he wags his tail enthusiastically and his face is relaxed. However, do you also recognize when your dog is nervous or about to become aggressive? He will display many telltale signals as his mood changes. Understanding what they are can help you bond with your dog and second-guess behavior that he is about to display. These points aren’t intended to get you to over analyze his behavior as most of us will react to pets instinctively, accurately, and with care, but for others it is good to know that your dog attempts to communicate with you at times.


Countless dog owners imagine that when their dog growls he is showing that he is angry. However, not all growls are equal. Puppies and young dogs often growl when they are playing and enjoying themselves. Dogs may also make growling noises when they are nervous and want another dog that seems threatening to back off. Furthermore, they sometimes growl as a warning that they want someone to leave them alone. Their vocals are a sign that they are unhappy, and that real aggression could follow if whomever they want to go away does not leave them alone. If they are dead set on being aggressive, dogs do not bother to provide a warning such as a growl before displaying behavior that is more hostile.

“What’s Going On?”

Your dog is asking what is going on when he raises his ears and tail, and cocks his head to one side. No doubt, he has heard an unfamiliar sound, or is attempting to listen hard so that he can establish what is happening around him. Your dog might also bark when he does not know where a noise originates. When he does, he is alerting you to the possibility that danger may abound. He sees you as the leader of the pack and is hoping that you check out the situation at hand since he is worried.

Pawing Behavior

Puppies and older dogs often use their paws to communicate. They might tap each other on the head with their paws, or even pat you in order to get your attention and engage you in playful activity. Youngsters sometimes use their mouths for the same reason, or engage in mouthing activity since they are teething and feeling uncomfortable.

As already mentioned, you already understand wagging, or do you? Dogs occasionally wag indecisively and slowly when they are unsure about how to react to someone or another animal. Their wag seems to imply that they would like to be friendly, but the situation could alter depending on how the person or animal in front of them reacts.

Knowing what your dog’s body language and vocals mean can help you establish a strong relationship with your pet. At the same time, he will appreciate the effort you are making since, just like humans, animals like to be understood.

Feeding Your Dog

Black Puppy
Your dog’s eating habits are as important for his health as the foods you give him to eat.

There are simple but important rules for feeding your dog, some of which you may consider for yourself. Remember: being a good dog owner takes work, and his feeding may require more attention than you think. ‘Feeding’ is not always keeping his food bowl topped up – although this is a safe and necessary reality at times. It involves everything from cleanliness, water supply, to food selection. Get to know his eating habits including the amount he is normally eating so you can keep his food and bowl fresh and clean, respectively. This advice isn’t meant to institute regimented ownership, just try to get a bit more in tune with him. Once established, you won’t even notice.

Feed your dog at regular times.

It’s important that he knows when he will eat so that he isn’t anxious or hungry between meals. Regular meal times also help stop him begging for food outside those times.

Treat his dish like you treat yours – with the expectation of clean.

Your dog’s feeding bowls should always be thoroughly washed and disinfected after each use as dried or stale remains can carry infections or harbor bacteria. Once the bowls are washed it is a good idea to clear them away, too. Next time you need to buy a new feeding dish, buy 5, so you can set up some sort of washing routine so it always happens – like your own dishes. Here is a link to stackable dog dishes, as an example.

Give him access to a constant supply (always there) of clean water.

It is vital that your dog has free access to a constant supply of fresh, clean drinking water at all times. His water bowl may need not only refilling but cleaning out several times during the day. Do not govern his water intake with your assumptions of health or his thirst, especially if you are not in perfect health. Always have his bowl full of clean water. If you return from a walk or exercise with him, keep filling his bowl if he keeps finishing the water, especially if in the heat of summer.

Never feed scraps to your dog – especially food you wouldn’t eat.

His dietary needs are not the same as yours. He should always be given a properly balanced diet suitable for dogs. Be sure his food has a moist component to it at times, and be in tune with him – when he needs to go for a walk be sure to take him. If you are feeding him from a can, it is important to read the nutritional information on the label and ensure that you supplement your dog’s diet as necessary.

Use an ‘anti-gorge bowl.’

Some dogs tend to eat too fast. This is an instinct of wild behavior. In a wild pack, each dog has to fight for his share and so he will eat as quickly as possible to stop his food being stolen. However, a domestic dog can suffer from indigestion, wind and vomiting if he eats too fast. An excellent and economical solution is to get an ‘anti-gorge bowl’. This type of bowl has an uneven inside surface. As your dog has to eat around the protrusions in the bowl it takes him longer to get to all his food. Most dogs seem to enjoy the little bit of extra work they need to do to obtain their food this way.

Get him his exercise.

There are dog breeds that are well known to be at risk of obesity. Basset Hounds, Labradors and King Charles Spaniels are common breeds that can have issues with weight. Whatever your dog’s breed, you should take care to make sure that his feeding regime is balanced with plenty of outside exercise.

Watch his weight.

A dog that is too thin will have a drawn in tummy, a thin face and ribs that can be seen or felt under the hand. An obese dog will have a distended tummy, folds of fat on the back of the neck, no tuck towards the back legs and ribs covered completely. A healthy dog will have shiny fur with a muscular body and show a slight tuck at the waist.

Get him checked out by a vet if you are unsure about his weight. This is especially important if you know that you are doing everything right but he is still either overweight or underweight.

Your extra work in this feeding area will result in a happy, healthy dog – and your ultimate reward, a better friend.