VICD Service Dogs, a Division of BC Guide Dogs, halted its in-person dog obedience classes and sessions with clients when details about the severity of the covid-19 pandemic came available. To ensure continued support for the Veterans and First Responders in the program, staff used zoom to connect through online sessions. Obedience classes were also offered virtually for the advanced PTSD Service Dogs in training and their volunteer boarder families. Now that restrictions are being slowly lifted, the organization is cautiously returning to physically-distanced, in-person dog training with group and individual sessions.
“Everyone did so well with the transition to online learning,” says Mike Annan, Executive Director of VICD Service Dogs. “Now that we’re adjusting back to our in-person training, I am incredibly proud of our staff, volunteers and our clients for being so patient and helpful as we navigate these new routines.”
Before the PTSD Service Dogs are placed with a client, they must complete their advanced training. During this training, they stay with local volunteer boarding families in the community who live close to the VICD office in Qualicum Beach.
“The VICD team provides us with wonderful support and guidance throughout, and we feel honoured to be part of such a worthwhile endeavor,” say Joanne and Gerry Willms, volunteer boarders for VICD Service Dogs. “Each dog finds a place in our hearts, and while saying good-bye when they leave is always difficult, we know that our tail-wagging friends will make a huge difference in the life of someone who needs their unconditional love.”