Foster Home Trainer Spotlight – Lorrie and Jaya

By Renée Duncan

We are proud to share the following article, which was originally published in the MindBody Solutions newsletter and written by our very own Lorrie O’Neal, foster home trainer to Golden Retriever, Jaya!

Gurus everywhere! Lessons from Jaya….

Sometimes I think I learned more from Jaya then she’s learned from me in training her these past 2 years.  When she arrived at 8 weeks old, she came with two binders of information, a seventy word cue list, a thirty pound bag of dog food and a kennel.  She learned to sit and greet, I learned patience and positive training.  She learned to close doors and drawers, turn on/off lights and retrieve items when asked.  I learned to pack the doggy bag with a variety of treats, bags and training aids, to plan ahead but expect things will change and roll with it.

Jaya and Lorrie

Lorrie with Jaya…learning from each other.

Today she opens doors with a special hook device, can place an item on a counter and can even carry small items in her mouth or tote bag. Jaya and I look to the day she will be matched with her forever partner to make someone’s life, that is challenged with a disability or PTSD, a lot brighter.  Sure, we will be sad to not see each other every day but the work and bond to a forever friend is invaluable.  There is no price for the love of Jaya or any service dog.

~ Lorrie O’Neal, Therapy Dog Trainer, U.S. Military Veteran, MBS student/assistant/Opening Yoga graduate

For information on how to become a Helping Paws foster home trainer, please visit

Helping Paws Pack

Where We Have Been and Where Are We Going…

By Brenda Hawley

The summer months are always a busy time for demonstration requests at Helping Paws. Helping Paws will send volunteers with either a working service dog or a service dog-in-training to groups and give a 30-60 minute demonstration on what we do and how we train the dogs. We do charge an honorarium to have us visit, but it is one of our ways of fundraising . To find out more about demonstrations or submit a request, click here.

Over the last month we have been busy at the Minnesota Zoo, OptumHealth Fair, the Mall of America through HandsOn Twin Cities, Osseo School District Summer Kids Program, and the Elk River Senior Center to name a few. Over the next several weeks we will be in Chuck & Don’s stores, participating in an open sing event, going to another elementary school, and participating in the Holiday Station Store BBQ Fundraiser again.

Below are a few pictures from some of our recent events.

Niko x Kol Litter Graduate to Big Dogs

Foster Home Trainer Spotlight – Kirk and Copper

By Renée Duncan

It’ s no coincidence that a background in teaching is a common thread among many Helping Paws foster home trainers. Kirk Boraas is on faculty in Minneapolis Community and Technical College’s chemistry department and serves as foster home trainer to service dog-in-training, Copper with wife, Renee. Copper, now 2 years old, is polishing his skills in the Wednesday night Big Dogs class along with the rest of his Kol x Niko littermates.

Recently, Kirk and Copper were interviewed and featured in a wonderful article by City College News Features Editor, Gabe Hewitt. If you’re interested in fostering or simply curious as to what it’s like to train a service dog, click here to learn more about Kirk’s experience.

Service Dog-in-Training Copper with Kirk Boraas

Summer 2014, Copper works on recall at Centennial Lakes Park
Photo credit: Renée Duncan



The Do Litter

Introducing the Do Litter!

By Judy Michurski

The Do Litter Puppy

Photo credit: Judy Michurski

Puppies have arrived! ​

Helping Paws would like to introduce you to these five adorable future service dogs-in-training. Our newest puppies, The “Do” litter, arrived last Tuesday​, June 9,​ and are doing great​ – four girls and one boy.​ The mother is Callahan, a Helping Paws breeding dog, and the sire is UCI Intl & Nat JA CH Gingerbred One Tree Hill, better known as Chester. He is a very handsome and friendly boy and he sure has produced some wonderful puppies. Thank you to Rob and Denise Babcock of The Captain’s Labradors for donating his stud service. Please visit their website to learn more about Chester and their kennel.

​We are fortunate to have four returning foster home trainers for this litter, and one new foster home trainer to round out the group.​ The puppies will be going home at the end of July and will begin classes immediately. They are also known as the “D” litter, and will have names that begin with the letter D.

These puppies are going to grow up and DO amazing things!

Helping Paws breeding dog, Callahan

Photo credit: Judy Michurski





We Be Big Dogs Now!

Greetings from dogs in training in the Monday class: the Isaac x Elise and Briggs x Hope litters, and Miko from Kol x Niko. We are proud to announce that we are officially Big Dogs now! This is the final stage of training for Helping Paws dogs, where we learn a few new skills and also how to put skills together in sequences. Our new skills include Get the Blanket and Go Get Help. We will also be doing lots of field trips outdoors, which gives us a chance to show off in public.

During our training it is important that we spend time with foster home trainers other than our own. This exposes us to different routines, and teaches us how to work for different people. We will be participating in a “dog exchange” this month, where we live with another foster home trainer for a week. Here are some photos from a recent class – enjoy!

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