Assistance dogs are four-legged wonders

by News Canada

(NC)—Assistance dogs are special canines — four-legged wonders trained to become an extension of people with a physical disability or visual impairment. As the first assistance dog training centre in Canada, the Mira Foundation was created to pair special breed dogs with people in need. Each year, the Mira Foundation places approximately 150—service and guide dogs with individuals across Canada and around the world.

The selection and training of Mira dogs begins when the puppies are just seven-weeks old. Once selected, puppies begin their training with a foster family, whose role is to socialize the puppies and prepare them for guide and service dog training. From home to work to social activities, the family integrates the dog into all their daily routines — learning to navigate malls, public transit and street traffic.

One of the most important factors in becoming a trusted and reliable assistance dog is receiving proper nutrition, starting at puppyhood. "At Mira, we have always fed Eukanuba exclusively to all our dogs because it's specially formulated with DHA," said Eric St-Pierre, Mira Foundation founder, breeder and assistance dog trainer. "DHA helps improves the development of the brain and central nervous system, making our puppies more trainable and giving them an edge on other dogs."

In addition to healthy nutrition, another important part of the process is being paired with the right person. Following the one-year training period with the foster family, dogs return to the Mira facility to continue training with potential service dog recipients. Individuals are paired with dogs for an orientation to determine if the dog/owner relationship is a match based on lifestyle, personality and needs. "As an avid outdoorsman and fisherman, I needed a dog that would embrace the outdoors as much as I do," said Lawrence Euteneier, Mira guide dog recipient and owner of Maestro, a Bernese Mountain dog. "Maestro was the perfect fit for my lifestyle. The training Maestro and I received at Mira was intense and thorough and taught us how to care for each other on our many outdoor adventures."

After several intensive weeks of bonding and training at the Mira Foundation, recipients return home with their new four-legged companion to independently live their day-to-day lives. You can learn more about the premium nutrition that fuels these dog heroes online at www.eukanuba.ca.


- News Canada