Pacific Assistance Dog Society (PADS) regularly brings puppies to Bow Valley College as part of their training to become assistance dogs.

It’s a lot of fun for Summit, Tonka and the rest of the puppies, who get to play and socialize with the students, and they don’t even know that it’s a test of sorts.

“It helps us to understand what the dogs are going to be like in the future, I can see right now that Summit is a little more social than Tonka, Tonka is more ‘I like food, I want to do something for one person’, so he may be eventually helping somebody in a wheelchair, whereas Summit may be helping someone in a position like PADS Hawk, who is our accredited facility dog in Calgary,” said Wendy Proudlock, PADS.

This is the fifth time puppies from PADS have come to Bow Valley College for socialization training. The organization raises and trains certified assistance dogs that end up partnered with people living with disabilities. Normally the puppies live with volunteers first who take them everywhere possible, including offices, pubs, schools and shopping centres.

“We like our dogs to go out in public so that they will be able to have a lot of experiences written into their little puppy dog books and in the future when they are with a client, they will go ‘Oh yeah, I know how to do this’,” said Proudlock.

While the dogs are learning their trade, they are also helping the students.

“This is the time of year that our students are incredibly stressed, they’ve got final projects, final exams, work, families, all that sort of thing,” said Jay Decore, Bow Valley College Student’s Association. “It is our most popular mental health event, we typically see over 400 students come though these doors over two days.”

“It’s kind of distracting me in a way that’s good, so I don’t really have to stress over my exams at all, I can take a nice break,” said Nicole McKee, student.

“I’m very stressed about school because I’ve sort of fallen behind so I am trying to catch up and this could not have happened on a better day,” said Annie Kristoferson, student.

PADS is always looking for people to volunteer as puppy-raisers or to help with office or event work. You can learn more on the PADS website.