Wowin’ Them at the Dog Show

Helping Paws was excited to perform demos with our dogs-in-training and graduate teams at the Land o’ Lakes Kennel Club Dog Show this past weekend. We told our story of the journey from puppy through graduate team, and our foster home trainers and graduate teams illustrated the process delightfully. Following some pics, courtesy of Linda Thuftedal, from the Friday demo.

Our training starts with the Perfect Puppy Phase. In addition to usual puppy challenges such as house training, we teach Watch, the foundation to most service dog skills. Here is Karen with Briar, a six-month-old Golden Retriever, showing us what Watch is all about.


Our Awesome Adolescents work on skills such as following a target stick (used later for positioning), and Get Dressed in both the Gentle Leader and the pack. The dog needs to walk into the Gentle Leader and into the pack, a skill our graduates find very helpful. Louise with A.J. (eight-month-old Golden Retriever) and Dale with Pippa (nearly year-old Labrador Retriever) ably represented our Awesome Adolescents.

Louise and A.J.

Louise and A.J.

Dale and Pippa

Dale and Pippa

Moving into Working Wonders now, with more skills being added and current skills being refined. Jolene and Bauer on the left in this photo prepared to show Tug. Tug is very useful not only for gloves or mittens, but also for coats, shirts, pants and socks.


Gina, also a Working Wonder, and Jane worked on Hold with a dowel. The Hold skill is then transferred to any objects that a dog may retrieve for an individual, holding onto the item until it is securely taken by the person.


The final phase of training is termed Big Dogs. Dogs enter this phase around fourteen months of age and continue to train until they are matched at around two and one-half years of age with an individual with physical disabilities or a veteran with PTSD. Our dedicated foster home trainers keep the dogs all the way through the training process, attending classes weekly and taking the dogs training in public locations.

A key skill for many of our graduates is Brace, where the dog stands firmly still and allows the individual to lean enough on him/her to stand from a seated or supine position. Here is Ron with Torie, one of our demo dogs, showing Brace.


We were very proud to have graduate team Corbett and Rocky as a part of our demo. Corbett told the audience how Rocky, who is eight years old, has helped break down barriers that individuals with disabilities often face in the community. People are more comfortable approaching Corbett when Rocky is with her. Corbett also reminded us all that a service dog is a working dog, and becomes very distracted and unable to do its job when people attempt to pet it, or make eye contact with it and talk in high voices. A good reminder!



Helping Paws is anticipating litters this year, and would love to chat with you about being a foster home trainer! Contact Jo at, or 952-988-9359, ext. 65. Pippa is eager to welcome you to the HP fold!


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For Another Great Year, We Thank You

To our committed foster home trainers, donors, sponsors, volunteers and loyal graduates. You make our mission possible.

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Color on a Cloudy Day

Enough of this gloomy weather! Here are some pics of the Cutty x Callahan pups – a sure remedy for seasonal affective disorder if there ever was one. Photos courtesy of Judy Michuski.

Bright colors – take THAT, grey skies!

Secrets and sharing.

Debates and meetings.

And, never overrated, nap time.

Have a great weekend!

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Big Ol’ Jet Airliner

Eleven dogs and foster home trainers in the Big Dogs class participated in a unique field trip to the Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport today. Many of our graduates travel by air with their service dogs. This field trip gave dogs-in-training the experience of going through security and boarding a plane. Our foster home trainers gained a new appreciation for the challenges that our graduates face.

First stop was security. The foster home trainers cued their dogs to sit and stay, walked through the scanner, and then recalled the dogs through the scanner.


The group then processed to the gate.

Once at the gate, the teams practiced sit, drop and stay while waiting to board the plane.

Finally everyone entered the plane. The skill “Under” has a new variation in tight airplane seating!

Many many thanks to the Metropolitan Airport Commission, Shelly Lopez, Delta Airlines, Captain Rich and the airport volunteers for providing this invaluable experience!

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The C Litter in Color!

The Cutty x Callahan litter turned four weeks old yesterday. Their photos are too cute not to post! Pics courtesy of Judy Michurski. Enjoy!

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Puppy Breath on a Cold Day

What could be better than snuggly puppy pics on a cold December 1st?!! The Cutty x Callahan litter had a fun Thanksgiving. The pups moved to a new pen filled with comfy stuffed toys, and burrowed right in.

Notice the dog that does not look like the others? That is Keeley, another Helping Paws breeding dog. Keeley is always available to give Callahan a break. The pups enjoy telling secrets to their Aunt Keeley.

Pics courtesy of Judy Michurski.

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The Color Litter’s First Official Blog Post

Helping Paws is proud and excited to introduce 10 future service dogs…the Cutty x Callahan litter born November 5. Special thanks to The Captain’s Kennels/Rob and Denise Babcock family for their donation of Cutty as the sire of these puppies. Appreciation to Judy Michurski and family for being the caretaker home for Callahan and her pups.

There are 8 males and 2 females, all in varying hues of yellow.

We choose themes for our litters, and this litter is the Color, or “C,” litter. The foster home trainers will name the pups, and all names will begin with the letter C.

Speaking of foster home trainers, we are still in need of 3 fosters for these Labs! Going-home date is December 26. Contact Jo for more info:; 952-988-9359 ext. 65.

Pics courtesy of Judy Michurski.

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