What an incredible event took place on Sunday, May 29. Graduation 2016 honoured 16 graduating teams, 15 of whom were in attendance. Nearly 300 guests showed up to celebrate these amazing people and their new canine assistants. Over 30 dogs, graduating, graduated and in training, enjoyed an energetic free-for-all in the courtyard of Chateau Louis Hotel and Conference Centre before all sitting quietly and attentive throughout the ceremony. The afternoon saw many tears, those of joy on hearing the stories of the graduate teams and their early successes, and those of sadness as many foster raisers said a final goodbye to the darling dogs they cared for so much.
Master of Ceremonies, John Wheelwright, welcomed everyone by offering a special tribute to our volunteers whose efforts are so truly noteworthy. He then introduced the staff of DWW satellite programs in Grande Prairie and Calgary; Rebecca Hayes Copeland, and Michelle Douglas and Kim Jeannotte, respectively. The ladies spoke about the amazing puppies that have come through their training programs and the joys of working with their incredible local volunteers.
As the graduating teams crossed the stage to receive their certificates from Director of Client Services, Elisa Irlam, and heartfelt hugs from team trainers Maria Illes and Moira Wegner, they each took a moment to express their gratitude for the gift of their assistance dog. The media was well represented at the event with television stations and daily newspapers all on hand sharing these stories.
Graduation 2016 was a spectacular event truly fitting for Dogs with Wings 20th Anniversary. It was a celebration of everyone involved: the whelping home, puppy raisers, adult raisers, our generous sponsors, training and kennel volunteers, and of course, the clients and their new assistant dogs. We offer a very special note of thanks to Paige and Ed Stahl who have generously and compassionately sponsored DWW graduations over the past several years.
Litter ‘E’ News
Welcome Litter “E”! These four beautiful yellow girls were born on May 8th at the whelping home of Charlene Johnson and family. As part of our partnership agreement in the North American Breeding Cooperative, one of the pups will be going to Bergen University in California and another to Southeastern Guide Dogs in Florida. This trading of puppies helps keep everyone’s bloodlines strong and ensures the best traits are passed along to future generations.
Charlene is just one of several very dedicated volunteers who turn their homes into sequestered puppy playgrounds for 8 weeks at a time. A new volunteer video shows some of the joys and trials of being a whelping home mom.