Ben and Koda
We should call him Ambassador Ben. Since receiving his service dog Koda in May of 2013, Ben has been promoting Dogs with Wings and the benefits of having a service dog whenever he can. With his sister Meagan’s help, photos of Ben and Koda have been frequently highlighted on Dogs with Wings’ Facebook page and serve as inspiration to applicants, clients, foster parents, and volunteers.
Ben and Koda were featured on Global News Calgary when he and his family were interviewed about their new service dog. The two of them can be seen at hockey games, both watching professional teams play and representing the Calgary Powerhockey League or Calgary Selects at international tournaments. Ben and Koda are always willing to show up at Dogs with Wings information booths and promotional events. Now in the third year of a communications degree, Ben and Koda were seen daily in the halls of Mount Royal University and University of Calgary. They have often been called on to make personal presentations to special interest groups like SAIT Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant students.
As an experienced athlete, Ben is used to being in the spotlight and making public appearances. He has also been an official ambassador for the Easter Seals campaign. In 2013, he participated in the Easter Seals Drop Zone and rappelled 115 meters down Calgary’s Sun Life Plaza. Ben is not afraid to do what it takes to get attention for a good cause.
Ben and Koda have proven invaluable to Dogs with Wings through their efforts to inform people about the organization, the benefits that assistance dogs make in the lives of families, and what to do when you meet a service dog team. He doesn’t hesitate to stand up for his rights and those of others too. Last February Ben was denied a cab ride because Koda was with him. He lodged a complaint that prompted a media response and awareness sessions for taxi drivers.
There are definite benefits to putting himself forward as an advocate of Dogs with Wings. Ben and Koda have met such notables as Calgary’s Mayor Nenshi and Disney World’s Pluto. Ben also seemed to enjoy the perks of photo ops with the very lovely ladies of the Feis & Fhomhair Irish Dance Competition when they chose Dogs with Wings for their charitable contributions.
Ben advocates on behalf of Dogs with Wings because of the incredible benefits he’s seen since Koda came into his life. From the start, Koda has helped Ben by retrieving items that are dropped or out of reach. This has eased the burden on Ben’s family and eliminated many awkward situations in public. Koda has learned how to help with pulling Ben’s jacket off and putting it on and they are working on Ben’s shoes. Koda has even helped Ben learn to maneuver his power chair better and be more aware of his surroundings. The most important change in Ben’s life has been learning patience. Discovering what the two of them can do together and teaching Koda new tasks has taught Ben to take a moment and breathe, and to keep trying until he succeeds. Their partnership continues to be a great experience every day.