Wag, Walk & Run Recap

Did you come to walk? To run? Perhaps simply to play with all the dogs? Maybe you came to advertise your own business, complete volunteer hours or even just to WIN. Whatever your reason, we THANK YOU! Because of you, Helping Paws raised over $37,000 to give the gift of independence to veterans with PTSD and individuals with physical disabilities through the use of our service dogs. In spite of the downpour that day, we had 421 registered participants and countless other supporters.


Congratulations to the following winners:

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Men without Dogs Winners - 1st Place Peter Oviguian 21:21 - 2nd Place Brett Swenson 23:34 - 3rd Place Alex Wade 24:13

Men without Dogs Winners – 1st Place Peter Oviguian 21:21 – 2nd Place Brett Swenson 23:34 – 3rd Place Alex Wade 24:13



Kids 1 Mile Fun Run


  1. Camden Wright 7:14
  2. Amber Holm 7:23
  3. Natalie Oviguian 10:15


  1. Michael Gross 6:19
  2. Tyler Chenevert 7:39
  3. Eli Pawelek 8:15


Dog Contests 

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More Photos from the Race

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Many thanks to presenting sponsor, Davanni’s, as well as sponsors Invisible Fence, Lions Tap, Scheels, Travelliance, Voyager Bank, and Westgate Pet Clinic.

TTouch for calming and balance

The Thursday evening classes are in for a treat. Nanci Shapiro, longtime Helping Paws volunteer, is here to teach the foster home trainers some Tellington TTouch techniques.


Per the official TTouch website, http://www.ttouch.com:

“The Tellington TTouch is a specialized approach to the care and training of our animal companions. Developed by internationally recognized animal expert, Linda Tellington-Jones, PhD (Hon), this method based on cooperation and respect offers a positive approach to training, can improve performance and health and presents solutions to common behavioral and physical problems. It also helps establish a deeper rapport between humans and animals through increased understanding and more effective communication.

“TTouch – the Tellington TTouch – is a method based on circular movements of the fingers and hands all over the body. The intent of the TTouch is to activate the function of the cells and awaken cellular intelligence – a little like ‘turning on the electric lights of the body.’

“The TTouch is done on the entire body, and each circular TTouch is complete within itself. Therefore it is not necessary to understand anatomy to be successful in speeding up the healing of injuries or ailments, or changing undesirable habits or behavior.”

Nanci leads the foster home trainers through a series of exercises designed to relax the dogs. As you can see, the dogs are not the only “beings” relaxing – these techniques also calm the humans.

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Nanci also conducts some movement exercises. Per the website: “Using a combination of specific touches, lifts, and movement exercises, TTouch helps to release tension and increase body awareness.” These maneuvers help these growing dogs gauge where their feet are.

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At a recent Assistance Dogs International conference, the importance of developing core strength and balance for working dogs was presented. Nanci brought this to the foster home trainers.

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Nanci also teaches TTouch techniques to our graduate teams during team training. These exercises provide a means for graduates to show affection to their dogs, and to provide a calming influence for both ends of the leash.

Public Education Video Series – Part 1

By Renée Duncan

It can be difficult to imagine how the loss of mobility can change a person’s life. Things that were once part of day-to-day life, things you wouldn’t give a second thought to, can become serious obstacles. Some of those obstacles are more obvious than others, such as navigating multi-story buildings without elevators or re-learning how to get in and out of a vehicle.

Yet, even after years of learning how to live with loss of mobility, new obstacles are bound to crop up. As you can see in the short clip below, service dog, Chai does a great job of pressing the handicap door access switch for Maxine during this final week of Spring Team Training.

Note the proximity of the elevated ashtray to the switch. Although Chai is fortunately undisturbed by its presence and Maxine is able to push the switch herself if necessary, that is not always the case for Helping Paws graduates, as many do not have full use of their upper limbs. A few inches closer, and the ashtray would directly impede Chai’s ability to help Maxine with the door. What may be a simple fix to one person could be a frustrating barrier to another. We invite individuals and businesses to consider such things in terms of accessibility. It is good policy to avoid placing items under or near handicap door access switches, loitering around them, or unnecessarily using them.

Do you have advice or experiences you’d like to share? Please drop us a note in the comments!

WWR Logo for Blog

Fun for All at the 2015 Wag, Walk & Run!

By Renée Duncan


2013 Wag, Walk & Run

Photo credit: Scott Helland

When: Sunday, May 17
Registration tent opens at 8:00 am
1 Mile Kids Run starts at 8:40 am
5K Six-Legged Run/Walk starts at 9:30 am

Where: Purgatory Creek Park
13001 Technology Dr, Eden Prairie, MN

Why: The approximate lifetime cost of training and caring for just one Helping Paws service dog is $30,000. With the help of participants, volunteers, sponsors, and vendors, Helping Paws hopes to raise a minimum of $25,000 to further the independence of individuals with physical disabilities and veterans with PTSD. If you’re unable to participate but want to help, you’re welcome to donate to a specific participant’s fundraising page or make a general donation here.



Registration Opens at 8:00 am

Pick up your race bag as early as 8:00 am in front of the park pavilion. Last minute guests are also welcome to register at this time, although participants save $10 by registering here on or before 11:59 pm on May 8.

Dog Contests Open from 8:00 am – 9:15 am

Even if your pup isn’t into running, they still have a chance to earn their keep by entering the dog contests! Contests include the following:

Best Dressed 2013

Photo credit: Rebecca Becker

  • Best Dressed
  • Longest Ears
  • Longest Tail
  • Shortest Dog
  • Tallest Dog
  • Most Waggiest
  • Most Resemblance Between Owner and Dog



Remember! Contest and 5k winners are announced onstage starting at 10:30, so remain in the park during that time if you plan on entering contests, as many of them require you be present to receive the prize.


Kids Race Participants Join the Eden Prairie Pom Squad for a Warm-up at 8:30 am

Eden Prairie Pom Squad at Wag, Walk & Run

Photo credit: Rebecca Becker

Enjoy Live Music by The Blue Drifters at 8:40 am, 9:45 am, and 11:15 am

The Blue Drifters at Wag, Walk & Run


See Helping Paws dogs in Action During the 11:00 am Demo!

Helping Paws Service Dogs at Wag, Walk & Run

Photo credit: Scott Helland



The Wag, Walk and Run is a fun run that welcomes runners at all levels, walkers, dogs, and strollers. That being said, a number of our wonderful participants are in it to win it, so please be mindful of your pace and position on the course, and make sure you leave plenty of room for others to pass if they so choose. Also, if you plan to walk the 5k or you’re just getting started in running, we suggest you avoid being near the front at the start line if you don’t



Dog-friendly 5ks are becoming more and more popular, but if this is your first experience racing with your beloved pet, below are a few safety tips to keep in mind.

  • Prepare for the weather. Helping Paws will provide canine water stops along the course, but if your canine companion isn’t used to spending a lot of time outdoors or has a particularly heavy coat, plan accordingly. Because we all know how predictable May weather is in Minnesota, we also recommend having a sweater or jacket on-hand for those fur-challenged breeds, should the forecast call for it.


  • Bringing your dog’s own travel water dish is suggested. Plenty of water will be provided within the park and on the course, however, would you want to share a water bottle with a couple hundred other people? Your pup may not either, plus it’s medically safer to bring a dish or bottle from home.
  • Know your canine companion. Like people, not every dog is into socializing or venturing too far from their own backyard. If your solo-loving pup or nervous nelly is overstimulated by new environments consider leaving them at home and enjoy greeting all the other dogs at the event. Same goes for senior dogs and dogs with medical concerns, such as arthritis or various joint issues.


Will they like me???

By Maureen Kleckner

Our 6 new teams began their second week of training this week. By now the individuals are speaking Helping Paws lingo with ease – Let’s Go, Come, Heel, Stay. The dogs are keying in on their new partners, learning the nuances of speech and hand signals.

Meanwhile, the foster home trainers have been gearing up to launch their dogs…the dogs they have trained, fostered and loved for two-and-a-half years. A bittersweet time.

Last Friday, the recipients and the foster home trainers spent time together at the end of the day, sharing stories and getting to know one another a bit. The foster home trainers were able to meet the individuals whose lives are being changed by the dogs they trained, and the recipients had the opportunity to hear about “puppy tales” and “adolescent antics.”

The question on everyone’s mind before this: “Will they like me???” The photos show the answer…”Yes!”

Photo credit: Judy Michurski

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