Puppy Joy!


Helping Paws is proud to debut our latest litter of future service dogs, the Joy, or “J,” puppies. Mama Elska timed the arrival to coincide with our annual Tail Waggin ‘ Dinner, where we celebrate  our mission of furthering people’s independence and quality of life through the use of assistance dogs.

The Gangsta x Elska pups, four males and three females, are thriving @ four weeks of age.

They are weaning to puppy food, and wrestling.



Each puppy has a litter name related to the theme of joy:

Jolly: full of good humor; mirthful; cheerful

Sunny: bright; shiny; radiant

Harmony: when you feel happy; peace

Effervescent: enthusiastic; vivacious; fizzy

Happy: joyful; fortunate; marked with good luck

Joy: happy; glad; merry

Bliss: completely happy; full of joy; blessed

Appreciation to caretaker home Mary Tiegen. Adorable photos courtesy of Judy Michurski.



Part of the class of 2018

Cuteness overload!

There is nothing cuter than a group of Helping Paws puppies receiving their official HP packs! The Thursday night puppy class, consisting of half of the Chester x Karma Lab litter and half of the Lambeau x Mare Golden litter, recently donned their packs for the first time.

First comes the fitting of the pack…

Haven getting fit

Haven getting fit





Next is “can we really work in these things?” Why, yes we can! Here we are doing Watch.











We have an added puppy, Halo, being trained by Solvei. Best behaved pup of the bunch!🙂



Gibson, absent from class that evening, provided this pic:



Not only do the puppies receive packs…the humans receive their official Helping Paws t-shirts!

Here is the class readying for a group photo…

Getting ready

Getting ready

…and here they are, puppies and packs, foster home trainers and t-shirts!

Part of the class of 2018

Part of the class of 2018

It was a fun night! Tired puppies.

After class crash

After class crash


Proclamation from Governor Dayton…and more real service dogs!

Governor Dayton of Minnesota proclaimed the week of August 7-13, 2016 as International Assistance Dog Week. Here is the certificate, followed by the wording in the proclamation:

Gov_Proclaimation_IADW_2016WHEREAS: Assistance dogs transform the lives of their human partners with physical and mental disabilities by serving as devoted companions, aides, best friends, and family members; and

WHEREAS: Assistance dogs include service dogs, guide dogs, hearing alert dogs, and alert/seizure response dogs; and

WHEREAS: Service dogs assist people with disabilities with walking, balancing, dressing, traveling, retrieving and carrying items, opening doors and drawers, pushing buttons, pulling wheelchairs, and aiding with household chores; and

WHEREAS: Guide dogs assist people with vision loss, leading individuals around physical obstacles; across intersections; entering or exiting doorways, elevators, and stairways; and to destinations such as seating; and

WHEREAS: Hearing dogs alert people with hearing loss to sounds such as doorbells, telephones, crying babies, sirens, other persons, buzzing timers or sensors, and knocks at the door, and they aid in emergency situations such as smoke or fire; and

WHEREAS: Alert/seizure response dogs provide warning for oncoming medical conditions including heart attack, stroke, diabetes, anxiety attack, post-traumatic stress, and seizures; and

WHEREAS:  International Assistance Dog Week, August 7, 13, 2016, provides opportunities to raise awareness of the selfless way assistance dogs help their human partners.


Today’s post shows Helping Paws service dogs assisting their partners in venues other than the work place.


Susan is able to enjoy going to the movies with her precious grandsons thanks to service dog Joe.




Service dogs are a key factor in graduates’ opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.




Cassie accompanies Shelly to a ballgame (great shot of Shelly’s pedi!).





Jim and Peton at the Wag Walk and Run. They have been WWR committee members since the inception of the event.Jim_Peton

Carl with Jed, and Aric with Minnie, have found that their service dogs mitigate the effects of PTSD enough that they can be out and about in their communities again.

Carl_Jed Aric_MinnieLynne_Maui

Maui chills while her partner Lynne works out for 2 hours at Fit 4 Recovery. Though this does not look like much, service dogs need to be able to relax quietly while their partners concentrate on personal fitness.


Jaime and Clio get ready to begin classes at Inver Hills Community College.

Zach_Ernie fancy            Valerie and Zach with Ernie enjoy an evening out.



At 11 years of age, Maddy has been Samantha’s service dog for 10 years. here she is blinged out in her brand new pack.






Andrea never dreamed she could take her kids to Disney World until she received Tate.

Going shopping is now possible for many of our graduates. Their dogs are opening doors for them, literally and figuratively.

Chad and Truman

Chad and Truman

Keona with Nancy's grandson Jack.

Keona with Nancy’s grandson Jack.

LaVonne showing teamwork with Olaf.

LaVonne showing teamwork with Olaf.

Brian_Sybil_sibsBrian and Sybil are front and center in this family photo.

Many many thanks to the graduates for providing such touching photos for our blog posts this week. Happy International Assistance Dog Week!

Real Assistance Dogs in Action

Our blog post from last week about the epidemic of “fake” assistance dogs generated a lot of shares, new subscribers, and comments. It is apparent that people who purchase vests and “service dog patches” online and pass their pet dogs off as assistance dogs are creating obstacles for public access for individuals partnered with trained assistance dogs.

This is a topic about which Helping Paws graduates feel very strongly. Their assistance dogs partners pave the way into the community. These dogs, all of whom have passed the ADI Public Access Test, facilitate their human partners’ independence through actions such as retrieving items, opening doors, and mitigating the often debilitating symptoms of PTSD. Our graduates were eager to share photos of their “real” assistance dogs in action. Our blog posts this week are dedicated to these teams.

Many Helping Paws dogs go to work with their partners. These dogs have had 2 1/2 years of training to remain calmly in Drop/Stays, and to retrieve dropped items. They are unobtrusive, yet available when needed.Jason_Atticus_work


Attticus hangs out quietly in Jason’s office. In spite of his chilled demeanor, he is ready for duty at a moment’s notice. Jason is a Safety Officer for Scott County.






Michael worked in a hospital as a scheduler and critical care skills instructor prior to retirement. Here, Winston  is prepared to travel through the units with him. Individuals with service dogs have access to most areas of health care facilities, and must be prepared to handle this type of environment.



Stetson has a much different type of office. Ethan has been able to return to farming since being matched with Stetson. It takes a highly trained dog to ride on farm equipment!




Can a dog carry a tune? While this is debatable, Steve, a musician, has his faithful service dog Duke  available to retrieve sheet music and anything else needed for a practice session.





Finally, we have a family affair to share. Eight or so years ago, Corbett was matched with Rocky, a stunning Golden Retriever. Rocky has accompanied Corbett to work, via van, city bus and metro transit. Last year, Ashley, Corbett’s wife, applied for a facility dog to work with her in her job as a therapist for challenged teens. Enter Jenga, a spirited Lab. Jenga is there to lend a non-judgemental ear, and, of course, is always up for a game of fetch!


Later this week we will post stories and photos of real assistance dogs with their partners in social settings. Stay tuned!

Here is a link to the article cited in the earlier blog post:

Fake Assistance Dogs Cause Legitimate Harm


“Pets in Vests” – the damage caused by fake service dogs

August 7 – 13 is International Assistance Dog Week (IADW)! Per IADW, “International Assistance Dog Week (IADW) was created to recognize all the devoted, hardworking assistance dogs helping individuals mitigate their disability related limitations.”

This year’s theme is public education around “fake” assistance dogs, raising awareness about the harm caused by people posing their untrained pet dogs as “assistance dogs.”

Next week, we will post more pictures like these of Helping Paws service dogs in action.

           image    IMG_2354

Here is a press release from IADW and Assistance Dogs International (ADI) about this issue:

Fake Assistance Dogs Cause Legitimate Harm

International Assistance Dog Week and Assistance Dogs International plea:

Don’t be a part of the problem. Fraudulent service dogs create serious issues.

July 24, 2016 | Santa Fe, NM and New South Wales, Australia—As more and more people with disabilities are paired with assistance dogs to help them lead more independent and productive lives, service dog teams are becoming an increasingly familiar sight in public places around the world. But how many of these dogs are just pets in vests?

This year during International Assistance Dog Week (IADW), August 7-13, assistance dog training groups around the world, including the members of Assistance Dogs International, a coalition of not-for-profit assistance dog organizations setting standards for the industry, are holding events and doing outreach to educate and raise awareness about the harm being caused by untrained pets posing as service dogs.

When these fake service dogs behave badly, people who truly need assistance dogs can face added discrimination and lose access to public places, both violations of anti-discrimination legislation. Recently, more and more legitimate partners of accredited service dogs have been asked to leave businesses, being told that it is because the shop or restaurant has had so many people try to pass off their unruly pets as accredited service dogs, they now suspect all dogs as fakes.

President of Assistance Dogs International, Richard Lord, from Australia, says that many member organizations have reported that fake service dogs have increased dramatically within the last few years. “A major part of the problem is with online sales of service dog jackets and service dog certifications and ID cards,” Lord explains.

Easy access to cards and vests just adds to the ease of committing fraud. The fact that very few countries have national laws around the proper use of a service dog makes prosecution of fraudsters very difficult.

“I understand people love their dogs and don’t want to leave them at home,” says Marcie Davis, Founder of International Assistance Dog Week. “But they don’t realize that pretending their pet is an assistance dog can be harmful to people like me who depend on a service dogs for essential daily tasks at work, in public, and at home.”

Complicating matters in some countries for businesses concerned about the legitimacy of a purported service dog is that only limited inquiries are allowed, according to standards such as the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Under that act there are two questions that staff may ask: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability? And, (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. A business also has the right to ask a person to remove their dog if its behavior is out of control or a threat to others.

Service dogs are more than a vest purchased for a few dollars online. They require years of expert training to perform specific commands and provide calm, reliable assistance to people with disabilities, including veterans and first responders injured while fighting for their country or supporting their community.

Don’t let anyone be denied the benefits of a trained service dog when they truly need them. Help us expose service dog fraud and stop the discrimination it can cause.

When looking for an assistance dog we recommend that you deal with an organization accredited by Assistance Dogs International or the government accreditation body in your country. Please report fake assistance dogs to your local authorities.

Help us celebrate the hard work and devotion assistance dogs provide to their partners by participating in International Assistance Dog Week. Visit www.assistancedogweek.org for more information.

Contacts: Marcie Davis, mdavis@assistancedogweek.org or 505-424-6631
Richard Lord, rlord@assistancedogs.org.au or +61 1800 688 364

International Assistance Dog Week (IADW) www.assistancedogweek.org was created to recognize all the devoted, hardworking assistance dogs helping individuals mitigate their disability-related limitations. During International Assistance Dog Week, we raise awareness and educate the public about how these specially trained animals are aiding so many people in our communities and honor puppy raisers and trainers. IADW was established due to the efforts of Marcie Davis, a paraplegic and CEO of Davis Innovations, a consulting firm based in Santa Fe, NM. Davis is the author of “Working Like Dogs: The Service Dog Guidebook,” and the host of the “Working Like Dogs,” on http://www.petliferadio.com.

Assistance Dogs International (ADI) www.assistancedogsinternational.org is a coalition of not for profit assistance dog organizations and an IADW partner. The purpose of ADI is to improve the areas of training, placement, and utilization of assistance dogs, staff and volunteer education, as well as educating the public about assistance dogs, and advocating for the legal rights of people with disabilities partnered with assistance dogs. ADI has a comprehensive accreditation system and members have to be regularly assessed to ensure they meet the high standards expected of assistance dog programs.