Helping Paws Featured on Twin Cities Live

Posted by Renée Duncan

In case you missed it, Helping Paws was featured on Twin Cities Live this past Monday! We are grateful to Twin Cities Live co-host, Elizabeth Ries, and the behind-the-scenes crew members for putting together this piece, which beautifully illustrates what Helping Paws is all about.

Helping Paws & Service Dog Baylor Featured on Twin Cities Live

As Elizabeth mentions, we are always looking for more foster home trainers and hope you will fill out the application here after watching the video!



Helping Paws’ version of the sleep-over

By Maureen Kleckner

The Cutty x Callahan dogs, also known as the C litter, recently had a fun-filled week, as did their foster home trainers. It was “dog exchange” week for the class. Periodically during training, Helping Paws organizes an exchange of dogs among classmates. For a week, each dog lives with a different foster home trainer. The foster home trainer handles the “new” dog as if it is the dog they are fostering…working on skills at home and in public.

The dog discovers new experiences and a new environment. For the foster home trainer, it is an opportunity to observe similarities and differences among the dogs in class. Many foster home trainers are relieved to see that the other dogs in class are not “perfect” and that the dog they are training is really doing just fine.

For Coach, the highlights of the exchange included working on Over…

coach over 0 Coach over 1

and Push.

coach push 1 coach push 2 coach push 3

Cora stayed close…really close…as in the bathtub.

Cora in tub

Cade retrieved an item he much rather would have chewed…

cade retrieve eadible item

and spent time chillin’ in Go to Bed and Roll Over – loved those belly rubs with Roll Over!

cade watch cade roll over

2014-06-10 Matthew x Turtle-190

4 Reasons NOT to Become a Foster Home Trainer

By Renée Duncan

1.   Who really needs more friends? 
Big Dog Dinner Not this guy…Golden Retriever and Turtle

2.   You would spend more time at dog birthday parties than your own kids’.Golden Retrievers with Party Hats

Service Dog-in-Training, Olaf

3.   You would be too popular at work to get anything done. Hazel

4.   Why would you want to look at this everyday? Yuck
or especially this! Super Yuck!


If you want to avoid becoming a foster home trainer, you definitely don’t want to complete the foster home trainer application available here.


One Hurdle at a Time

By Kenzie Sarbacker, AgrAbility of Wisconsin Intern

Note: the following article was originally published in AgrAbility of Wisconsin’s Plowing Ahead Summer 2015 Newsletter

All Ethan Meyer wanted to do was drive tractors. After a serious accident in 2011, that desire was put into jeopardy. Ethan Meyer is a part-time employee at Schottler Farm in Somerset, Wis., where he helps with field work, mainly running the desk and spreading fertilizer. Getting in and out of the tractors and fixing the machinery had never been a problem for Meyer, until April of 2011 when he had his accident.  He hit a deer with his motorcycle. This left Meyer with a C5 spinal cord injury, paralyzed from the chest down. Meyer never wanted to go to college and just wanted to continue driving tractor, so with the help of AgrAbility of Wisconsin and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Meyer still does what he loves most.

Jeff Kratochwill, Easter Seals Rural Rehabilitation Specialist, worked with Meyer and the Schottler Farm to determine what changes needed to be made to keep Ethan driving tractors. Kratochwill noted, “After his accident, Ethan was unable to work and appeared to struggle a great deal with his feelings of self-worth. In meeting with him, it was clear that he had a strong desire to work on the farm and be productive again, and his employer was fantastic about wanting to help him.  I proposed some accommodations to include items such as a power lift, remote cameras, and seat and steering wheel modifications, which were ultimately implemented.”

The Easter Seals FARM team did a test lift first to see if, once Meyer was in the tractor, he could still drive it.  A chair lift was then added to the outside of two different tractors on the farm so that Ethan can get in and out easily. Each tractor was modified with a tri-pin to the steering wheel, levers for the clutch and brake pedals, a chest seat belt, and cameras. “Ethan contacted me shortly after they were installed and said how well things are working and how much work he has completed. I am happy for him and it has truly been amazing the difference it has made on his attitude as well,” Kratochwill stated. Ethan and Helping Paws Service Dog Stetson on Tractor

“The chest support is really helpful to keep me from falling out of the seat, especially when going down hills,” said Meyer. With the new adjustments to the tractors, Meyer is capable of going eight hours in the cab with little to no help. Meyer’s boss, John, said, “He’s always been positive. He doesn’t sit back and say, ‘God, why did you do this to me?’” Meyer has a great relationship with other Milk Buds Farms employees. They are always willing to help Meyer out when he breaks down or has trouble with any of the machinery.

Meyer claims his greatest challenge is re-learning how to do everything. “You have to just figure out what you can do and do it. I mean, I couldn’t do back-flips before the accident, and I can’t do them now.”

Meyer also recently got his driver’s license back and has adapted a van so he can drive. “This is Ethan hopefully going to open new doors for me and allow me to go get parts for machinery. Nobody usually likes to do that, and now I can go by myself.”

Along with modifications to the tractors and the van, Meyer also uses a reacher with a claw at the end. This tool helps Meyer with daily living tasks, such as picking things up off the ground or reaching for things in high places. Meyer has really benefited from having this reacher.

Meyer is also thankful for his beloved service dog, Stetson, and for everyone who has helped him along the way. “Without so many wonderful people, there would’ve been too many hurdles to overcome.”

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