Thank You!

Thank you for 20 amazing years!

We look forward to spending the next 20 working with you as well.

It would be wonderful if we could personally thank all the amazing people who have befriended, volunteered, supported, and advocated for Dogs with Wings over the past 20 years but that list is near endless. However, if you are new to our newsletter or have missed reading about Dogs with Wings history through our Friday Facts, please visit our newsletter sign up page to subscribe. We have captured some of the highlights on how we reached this milestone and how much we appreciate our Dogs with Wings family.

Season’s Greetings from Dogs with Wings!

Cathy Cross
Interim Executive Director/Fund Development Manager

Elisa Irlam
Director of Client Services

Maria Illes
Director of Training

Moira Wegner

Kerri Davis
Volunteer Coordinator

Kim Zahara
Fund Development Coordinator

Erin Tilley
Health & Kennel Coordinator

Taylor Eastman
Trainer (Apprentice)

Veronica Fraser

Caitlin Mungham-Bonaldo
Breeding Coordinator

Michelle Douglas
Volunteer Coordinator, Calgary

Kim Jeannotte
Puppy Leader Calgary

Rebecca Hayes-Copeland
Puppy Leader Grande Prairie

Carol Walker

And all our dogs in training of 2016:
Apollo, Archer, Aria, Axel, Breeze, Briggs, Burke, Cagney, Cessco II, Chai, Chewie, Chili, Cider, Coal, Cooper II, Cypress, Darby, Dee, Deuce, Dublin, Ember, Everly, Fawna, Fernie, Flora, Gemini, G-Litter, H-Litter, KC, Indy, Lacey, Luna, Madison, Manny, Maple, Matlock, Mulder, Pepper, Polo, Reign, Rio, Robson, Rugby, Sota, Spirit II, Summer, Sylvie, Turbo, Ultra, Unity, Vaughn, Venus, Waldo, Walker, Watson, Waverley, Webster, Wilbur, Willow, Wynne, Yola, Yoshi, Yuma, Zara, Zaya, Zed, Zeke, Zelda, Zena, Zeus II, and Zoe!

We Are Listening

We’ve Got Our Listening Ears On!

Dogs in ParkOn August 16, Dogs with Wings hosted a Town Hall Meeting welcoming volunteers, stakeholders, and friends to come out and talk about the best way for the organization to move into the future. There was a wonderful turnout of committed and passionate individuals from all segments of the DWW family. We truly appreciate the comments, questions, suggestions and concerns that were brought forward.

We listened. We learned. Now we are acting. One of the primary topics was communication and we want to let everyone know that we are taking a close look at what has and has not worked in the past. Trying to come up with the best plan to meet the needs of our DWW family in the years to come will take some time, but steps are being made and you can watch for announcements coming soon.

We also heard that many of you are ready, willing and waiting for a chance to offer your unique skills, education and talents to help Dogs with Wings grow. We are working on that too and have some exciting plans for the future.

Thank you for being the solid foundation on which this organization is built and continues to grow. We are all so very strong together.

Hearts of Gold

Dog VestDogs with Wings has the outstanding good fortune of having dedicated and compassionate individuals and business leaders across our province who give from the heart to support the work that we do. These donors ensure that our lights stay on, that all of our dogs health needs are met, and that our hardworking staff are rewarded for the work they do so passionately. Our donors keep Dogs with Wings alive and growing.

A thousand thank you’s wouldn’t be enough to express our appreciation for these amazing people. Whether they publicly sponsor the cause, encouraging others to do so too, or quietly pledge their recurring support asking neither for fanfare nor privilege, all are very deeply appreciated.

We can’t share the list of everyone who has given of their treasure to Dogs with Wings in this newsletter, but we can ask that you acknowledge, and where possible support, our many business partners. Click here to visit the FRIENDS page on our website for links to over 80 of our partners.

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.

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.

Making Dogs Your Career

Dogs Event
If your life passion involves dogs, know that there’s never been a better time to consider the many dog-related career options available to you, starting just around the corner.

Currently almost every urban core and suburban areas have well-established shelters and dog pounds where abandoned, abused or neglected dogs are surrendered. Many of them need help.

Volunteering is one of the most important initial preparations for a dog oriented career. By volunteering at your local shelter you’re allowing yourself to see if your love of dogs goes deep enough to understand their unique needs, appreciate their behaviours and effectively work with their limitations.

The other benefit of volunteering at a dog shelter is the opportunity to be introduced to the many dog breeds and the specific personality traits that come with each.

If you’re dealing with a fear of a certain type of breed, volunteering to work with that breed is allowing you some important hours clocked with that breed, not only to confront your own fears, but also to prove to potential clients or employers that your dog experience is well-rounded and thorough.

Within six months of volunteering at a shelter and working directly with a large selection of dog breeds, you’ll know whether your dog-loving can turn professional.

If you choose to make a career out of dogs, then your choices are plentiful:

• If dog health and healing is the attraction, you’d be wise to study the many options for entering into a canine veterinary career.

• If behavior and training is the area that most interests you can consider becoming a professional canine behavior specialist or a dog trainer. In these careers, you’ll be working with canines in every field from aviation, armed forces, police and security to the performing arts.

• Perhaps your real interest is in dog shows. With increasing popularity, local dog shows that lead to national and international competitions, are popping up everywhere. Each needs producers, breed specialists and of course, dog handlers. These are the special humans who know exactly the very exquisite way that each breed must be ‘shown’ on the runways. For this career, you’ll need a flare for showmanship as it’s typically the personality of both the dog and the handler that judges assess.

• Finally, if how dogs look is your true calling, then a career as a professional dog groomer is the perfect fit for you. You might also consider becoming a dog photographer since everyone’s favorite family member needs a memorable portrait.

• Not interested in a profession or full time work, only keen to do a little part time work with dogs? Consider applying to be a dog walker, dog sitter, a part-time dog groomer or working part-time in a pet supply store. Here your knowledge of products to make dogs and dog owners happy will ensure customers keep returning.

Any path you choose to take, know that understanding, appreciating and being able to work well with man’s best friend will offer you happiness and the knowledge you are doing good for others.