Happy National Puppy Day! March 23, 2018












Today is National Puppy Day and what better way to celebrate than to find yourself some puppy love!  Whether you’re able to snuggle up close and personal, watch a related video, browse through some puppy photos; you will definitely feel a boost in your day!

Did you know studies have found when you spend time with a puppy or a dog, it increases the level of serotonin in your body and produces a “feel good” feeling.  That’s right; we at Dogs with Wings are feelin great, and we want you to feel great too!  We’re looking for inspired Puppy Raisers and Adult Dog Raisers to help in our goal of matching our Clients with specially trained dogs to “Ditch-Our-List” (our waiting list that is . . . ) and re-open all of our Program applications to the public.  Check out our next Information Session which takes place on Thursday, April 19th at 5:30 pm located at our Training Centre at 11343 – 174 Street NW, Edmonton.  The Information Sessions are held every 3rd Thursday of the month.  If you are unable to stop by in April, there’s always opportunity for the next month!

Here’s a few photos of our puppies to get you started and send some PUPPY LOVE your way!  If you want to see more, we have 2018 DWW calendars that are loaded with photos of all our dogs.  The calendars are $20, with all the proceeds going to Dogs with Wings.  Stop by today for your copy and get you some Puppy Love for the entire year!


Be The Reason This Season

Be The Reason This Season

Dogs with Wings and the Calgary Flames Foundation partnered on their “Be The Reason This Season” campaign, which kicked-off on Monday, December 11, 2017, with the Bowie Family.  The campaign highlights six different charities within Alberta, with the purpose of spreading kindness this holiday season.  As part of this campaign, the Calgary Flames Foundation provided a donation to our Ditch-the-List campaign, enabling DWW to put the final touches on specialized training for DWW Robson, as well as Team Training for the Bowie Family, who has been on the waiting list for several years, anxiously awaiting an autism service dog for their son, David.  Here is what mother, Candice Bowie had to say:

“We are still so happy and a bit in awe of how everything went!!  Watching David go out of his comfort zone to play mini sticks and interact with the Calgary Flames hockey players was just amazing!!  The way the players and members of the Calgary Flames Foundation interacted with David was fantastic.  They were so respectful, making sure David felt included and could participate in a way that he felt safe.

We are so incredibly excited for DWW Robson to join our family and just can’t believe this dream we had for David is finally coming true!  The way such a big group of people came together to surprise us and make this a reality is just amazing and something we are so thankful for!  DWW Robson is the greatest Christmas gift our family could ever receive!”

Join us and the @FlamesFdn in spreading kindness this holiday season! Share acts of kindness using the hashtag #BeTheReason and help inspire others to help out in their community!

To Be or Not To Be . . . A Volunteer

Several years ago we heard about Dogs with Wings on the radio.  We avoided it because we thought it would be too much of a commitment.  What a mistake!  We’ve had DWW Toby for four weeks now, and the joy he’s brought our entire family, in such a short time is immeasurable.  Yes, he’s a lot of work; yes, he chews on things; yes, he pees in the house sometimes.  But, how can anyone be annoyed with that when you leave the room for three minutes and come back to a puppy wagging his tail so hard he almost falls over because he’s so happy to see you?  He is pure bliss.  We know it will be difficult to give him up in a year’s time, but to know the joy, the support and the life-changing effect he will have on someone else, will be worth it in the end.

To be honest, one thing we did not anticipate was the pride we feel when DWW Toby has his jacket on and is working.  To be able to say we are raising him to be an Assistance Dog, is a tremendous thing.  And consider this – you get a free puppy for a full year!  That’s the kind of volunteer job we can get behind!

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.

Thanks Volunteers!

National Volunteer Week 2016It is 2016 National Volunteer Week April 11-15, so thank you to the amazing people who have made us part of their families over the past 20 years.

Two such volunteers are Kathy and Peter Kawalilak. Peter is semi-retired, a former police officer now working for the 911 call centre. Kathy is a teacher about to retire her full time position and go on the substitute list.

Volunteers Kathy and PeterThey live in Sherwood Park in a house they share with one adult son, their 12 year old ‘keeper dog’ and every year for the past nine, a Dogs with Wings foster puppy. Read more.

A Reason to Celebrate
According to Statistics Canada 2010 survey, 55% of Albertans volunteer and each volunteer contributes an average of 140 hours per year. Dogs with Wings volunteers are 3 times more dedicated, and that doesn’t even count what else they do in their communities!

In 2015, Dogs with Wings Assistance Dog Society received over 121,000 hours of service from 297 volunteers and their families.

Puppy GradThat is:
13.8 years
the equivalent of 62 full time positions
valued at $1.8 million at $15 per hour
an average of 54 day’s work per person

Absolutely Incredible!

It Takes a Village
School KidsThere are so many ways volunteers help out at Dogs with Wings. Every day, year round, hundreds of people are working at raising dogs and money to ensure assistance dogs are being placed with clients whose quality of life depends on them and their training.

Our in-home foster programs are by far the largest volunteer programs. Adult dog foster homes, puppy foster homes, whelping homes and boarding homes require tens of thousands of dedicated hours each year. Our puppy and boarding programs operate in Grande Prairie, Edmonton and Calgary. The adult foster program and our whelping homes center on our training facility in Edmonton.

We also have many volunteers who work hands-on with the dogs at our training facility or out in public. Training Assistants help reinforce the skills dogs need for their assistance roles. Training assistants can be individuals or families who take the dogs to shopping malls, grocery stores, festivals or bus rides. They may also be classrooms of children or family groups who help train dogs that will be working with children. Dogs with Wings also has kennel assistants who come in every day to make sure that all the adult dogs are taken outside to be relieved and to run around in our off leash area for exercise.

Some of our very important volunteer roles don’t involve our dogs directly. Every year it takes a very dedicated committee of people to plan and carry out our events. Graduation, and especially our Gala, take many hours of planning and lots of hands on deck to be successful. There are several other events and activities taking place all year when people are always happy to step up and lend a hand. Groups from companies might help by doing a “deep clean” of our training facility, individuals lend their muscle to haul donated furniture, and DWW ambassadors visit schools and other community groups to talk about assistance dogs and our organization.

Dogs with Wings is very lucky to count people all over the province as volunteers who help raise money to support the work we do. These volunteers may be students who take up a collection at school, individuals who ask for donations instead of birthday presents or people or groups who plan a fundraising event in their community.

There is one core group of volunteers whose leadership guides the organization to grow and succeed. Dogs with Wings Board of Directors are special individuals who have taken up the responsibility to ensure DWW remains a viable, productive and ethical operation fulfilling a valid need in society.

‘Time, treasure or talent’ is a phase used to describe the types of support given to charities. At Dogs with Wings, there is no distinguishing between our volunteers, all give time, treasure and talent.

Leverage your Passion
Happy StaffEmployers across Alberta have come up with several ways to keep their staff happy, active and involved in their communities. One of these is to support causes that their employees hold dear. These programs might be matching gifts for the donations their employees make, grants to charities where their employees volunteer, or even gifts to recognize volunteer contributions of retired employees.

Dogs with Wings receives many financial gifts from businesses every year that are “volunteer driven”. Donors become volunteers by asking their employers to match their financial gifts. Volunteers can become fundraisers by asking for grants to DWW based on a minimum number of hours they have volunteered or on length of service to DWW.

The only way DWW can receive this support is if donors and volunteers ask their employers. We truly appreciate our volunteers who have asked their employers about their matching gift or employee volunteer grant program. They have gone the extra mile and leveraged their passion for Dogs with Wings.

New Horizons
Wynne at SchoolEmployment and Social Development Canada has provided Dogs with Wings a grant of $23,000 through the New Horizons for Seniors Program. Starting in April, DWW will be developing and running programs focused on recruiting, training and mentoring volunteers.

Although the definition of “senior” is age 55 and up, the grant allows for a much broader range. The program will include promoting volunteerism among seniors and other generations, engaging seniors through the mentoring of other generations, and supporting the social participation and inclusion of seniors.

Dogs with Wings will call on our current “senior” volunteers for ideas and help to make the most of this opportunity to build and grow our volunteer program foundation and numbers. Watch for more information about the New Horizons project coming soon.

Benefits of Volunteering

Puppy Paige
Many people don’t feel like they have the time to volunteer, but volunteering offers many benefits. Some people volunteer to advance their career and others simply wish to make their community a better place to live.

Volunteering is Good for Your Health

One of the best reasons to volunteer is for your own health. Not only does volunteering increase life satisfaction, it makes you feel good. In fact, the effects of volunteering are so profound that social scientists say that it eliminates the ingredients of depression. Being around people and doing meaningful work also serves to alleviate negative stress.

In the realm of physical health, volunteering can provide an avenue to stay active. Older adults can especially benefit from the physical aspects of volunteering. Not only do study participants who volunteer have lower mortality rates than those who don’t, but they showed a decrease in levels of chronic pain and certain heart disease symptoms.

Volunteering Forms Connections

Volunteering also has a positive impact on your immediate community. Volunteers are often the gears that keep the community machine running. They have the satisfaction of knowing that they are making their world a better place to live and strengthen existing relational ties to their community through various social avenues.

Volunteering Can Help Your Career

If you are considering a career change, volunteering can be a great way to explore your options. You can obtain experience in your field of interest and find out what it’s like to work in that field on a daily basis. Essentially, volunteering can afford you the opportunity to try your new career on for size and see if it really is something you want to pursue. Even if you are not changing careers, volunteering can be an important way to build important career skills such as teamwork, communication, organization, and project management.

Questions to Ask Yourself
Volunteering is a great way to enrich your life. Start by identifying why you want to volunteer and what kinds of things you might want to do. Here are a few questions to ask:
• What causes are important to me?
• Am I exploring new career options?
• Do I want to learn a new skill?
• What am I good at?
• How can I help my community?
• How much time do I have to volunteer?

In order to find the best volunteer position to suit your individual needs and goals, it’s best to visit a number of organizations, meet the people in charge, and be sure to ask questions about the work to be done.

Volunteering can be an enjoyable and rewarding endeavor that has many benefits. Enhance your life by finding a place to volunteer in your community.