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Artilce in a St. Charles IL Paper written about the Family Fun Fest
The highlight of the morning entertainment at the DuPage Expo Center was a presentation from the Oswego-based Very Important Pooches Service Dog Foundation. With five dogs in tow, including a male German Shepherd named Taz, volunteer trainers explained the value of service dogs. A trained dog can provide companionship to senior citizens, assistance to people in wheelchairs and a calming influence for children with autism. Because of what the dogs provide, federal law grants service dogs special access to restaurants, hotels, stores and sports facilities that other dogs, such as those kept as pets, don't have, the volunteers explained.
The nonprofit foundation trains and provides service and companion dogs to people with developmental or physical disabilities.
There’s a New Dog in Town: Meet Frisbee
Kane County Connects Staff 7/25/2022 8:00AM
For a second time, the Kane County board room is doubling as a classroom for a specialized dog who is learning how to assist disabled individuals with everyday activities.
Frisbee, a 7-month-old Bernese Mountain/Poodle mix, tags along with Kane County Technologies Coordinator Blair Peters during his workday.
Peters volunteers for the VIP Service Dog Foundation (www.vipservicedogfoundation.com), whose mission is to provide affordable service dogs to individuals with disabilities.
Frisbee has been in training with Peters for about five months and attends upwards of 15 board meetings a month. Peters says the sounds, movements and activity in the Kane County board room during meetings has proven to be a good place to teach the dog to ignore his surroundings and focus solely on Peters’ commands.
The first dog Peters trained using the Kane County Board room was Gremlin, who is now in a home assisting a child with disabilities. When asked about giving up Gremlin after 8 months of training, Peters said it was emotional. “Yes, it was hard but he had a much bigger purpose,” said Peters. “Working with the person he was placed with made it easier. I knew he was going to be loved and make a huge difference in that person’s life.”
The VIP Service Dog Foundation that Peters volunteers with to train dogs like Frisbee and Gremlin is currently looking for what he calls “puppy raisers.” He says those are volunteers to take the organization’s youngest members home and teach them the basics: how to walk on a leash, potty training etc. Peters says it’s crucial to have the “puppy raisers.” He says if there is no one available to be a puppy foster the organization has been forced in the past to turn down a donated puppy.
He says the VIP Foundation has also been working to make service and support dogs available to disabled veterans with no fee.
Applications and more information about the work of VIP Service Dogs does can be found on their website at www.vipservicedogfoundation.com.
Kane County Board Meetings Play Critical Role in Training Service Dogs
Kane County Connects Staff 4/11/2023 7:00AM
Since December of 2021 the Kane County Board has been an enthusiastic part of the learning process for several puppies training to become service dogs. The dogs, when trained, are placed with differently abled people in the local community.
The Kane County employee behind the service dog training is Blair Peters, Kane County’s Technical Coordinator. He manages the technology and public access for the County Board meetings. For two years, he has been volunteering with VIP (Very Important Pooches) Service Dog Foundation of Hinckley, a charitable organization whose mission is to provide affordable service dogs to individuals with disabilities. (www.VIPServiceDogFoundation.com)
The dogs accompany Peters to County Board meetings where they remain by his side as he runs the technical side of the meetings. This aspect of training for a service dog teaches them how to behave in public settings. The dogs are required to have practice time in the types of environments that their eventual handler will need the dog to be able to assist them.
“The public meetings in the County Boardroom are a perfect environment with many people and many distractions,” according to Peters. “The dogs learn to ignore the activity around them and focus on their handler.” The training steps up a notch once the dogs start coming to work. “I think the mood of everyone in the room improves when I bring a dog in, said Peters. “I am constantly seeing smiles break out on people’s faces when they notice a dog in an unexpected place.”
The dogs wear a specialized vest to let the public know that the dog is in training. The vest makes it clear that no one should try to pet, make eye contact or talk to the dog.
“One of the hardest things is to tell dog lovers that they can’t say hello or pet the dog,” said Peters.
VIP Founder and President Donna Akers said volunteers are fully trained on how to teach the service dogs basic obedience skills, in addition to more specialized training. "A service dog learns to perform at least two custom tasks to help an individual mitigate their disability.” Akers said.
Since Peters started with the volunteer program he has worked wth four dogs. Gremlin a brown Golden-doodle was placed with a differently abled pre-teen where the dog has helped the pre-teen handle stressful situations. In the past, the stress interfered with their ability to learn or participate in activities.
The second dog was a black Berne doodle, named Frisbee. He is also the first dog the VIP (Very Important Pooches) Service Dog Foundation placed with a veteran at no cost. The two have become inseparable and Frisbee has built confidence in the veteran which has allowed him to not second guess participation in some of his activities.
“We have been able to raise funds to support veterans that have been injured while serving our country. Frisbee was our first placement through the veteran’s program and we already have enough funding secured to place more dogs with differently abled veterans for free” said Peters.
The two most recent puppies are Ducky, an eleven-month-old English Yellow Labrador Retriever and Wolfie, a three-month-old Irish Wolfadoodle. Ducky is ready to be placed with a differently abled person who needs a full-service dog. Ducky has the necessary training to join their handler in public places such as stores, restaurants and doctor offices.
Recently the Kane County Boardroom hosted a dog reunion of ‘Peters’ Pack.’ There were lots of well-behaved wagging tails. The reunion was made possible by a bit of luck and also the generosity of the military veteran who brought Frisbee to see his fellow service dogs.
“To accomplish our foundation mission, we need the cute puppies but the most important ingredient are dedicated volunteer puppy raisers. These volunteers teach a puppy the skills they need to make a lifelong impact for a differently abled person,” said Peters
For more information about VIP Service Dog Foundation or to volunteer as a puppy raiser, visit them on the web at www.VIPServiceDogFoundation.com. Email at VIPServiceDogFoundation@yahoo.com or make a donation at https://www.gofundme.com/f/veteran-receive-a-service-dog-at-no-charge?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=p_cf%20share-flow-1 )