My journey started about 12 years ago when I was invited to join a friend in cuddling the 5-week-old Weather litter. I was hooked, and so started my weekly puppy cuddling sessions in the EPE kennel, and joy of joys, taking puppies home to sit on weekends.

One magical December night in the yard of the EPE kennel, being in the Christmas spirit, I started to sing a Christmas carol. All the puppies sat in a circle around me with their dear little faces turned up, listening intently like they had never heard singing before, or maybe the spirit filled them as well! I was so delighted that I continued singing every carol I knew while the puppies sat entranced. What a joyful memory. I was very embarrassed to find out that Joan and Wayne were there and heard the concert!

All the puppies are special, but some are extra special. One day, on the way to cuddling, I stopped at the hospital to visit my beloved uncle. While I was there, the Doctor advised my uncle that his cancer was terminal. After crying my heart out I continued to puppy cuddle. When I stepped into little Quaker’s kennel he sat there staring intently into my face, then when I sat down with him he licked a tear off my face then pressed hard against my body as he slid into my lap. He continued looking into my eyes and I believe he could feel my pain and was saying “I’m here for you”.

I have seen other PADS dogs showing their compassion also. Our Zumba, when just 5 months old, was drawn to the bedside of a dear friend at end of life. Zumba lay his head on Bud’s arm and held that position for about 10 minutes before repositioning his muzzle against Bud’s arm, looking into Bud’s face the whole time. Kurtz has also displayed this sort of compassionate behaviour to a total stranger – wagging his tail while laying his head in the lap of a young woman facing amputation, then watching out for her as she left the building.

Our PADS dogs give us many laughs and so much joy but, really, they are the icing on the cake. Like so many people, we came for the dogs but stay for the people. I have so much admiration for PADS’ staff, clients and volunteers. Being part of this wonderful family enriches my life and that I’m grateful to count some of these amazing people as dear friends.

My real joy is hearing about the amazing differences PADS makes in so many lives. I have often been stopped, while out and about, by people gratefully telling me what a difference a PADS dog has made in their lives or the lives of a loved one. I will never forget the day a van pulled up beside me in a mall parking lot and a man in a power chair and his PADS dog rolled down the ramp. The man and his wife were beaming and so excited to tell me that it was their first time out alone with their dog, because they were on their way home from team training. After giving me big hugs we went our separate ways – they to greater independence and me with a big smile, tears in my eyes, and joy in my heart.

Help Us Change Lives

All PADS assistance dogs are provided to clients at no cost. Behind each and every success story is a donor who makes this possible.

Tell us your PADS story

We are still accepting stories for our 30 Stories for 30 Years series. Whether you have volunteered, received a dog as a client or adopter, given of your time, money or heart… you are part of the PADS story!  Tell us how being involved with PADS has impacted you.

Ken and Riddle at PADS Grad in 2013