FRENCHTOWN - You may have seen them around, ‘service dogs’ on the job helping their owners live more independent lives.
A man who years ago co-founded a service dog training organization here is back in Missoula to start a new non-profit — one he hopes will change lives. And you can help.
"Prior to starting the new program that we’ll be starting -- a hearing and service dog program — we’re getting these puppies prepared,” explained Glenn Martyn of Firewind Training Kennels. “And so, they are out here being socialized, trained, evaluated but we’re preparing them for that new path when the program starts.”
Martyn has a Master’s Degree in Canine Life Sciences and has trained dogs his entire life. He was the co-founder of a service dog organization in Missoula called Paws-abilities in the 90s. After living out of state for years, he’s back to start a non-profit and right now, he needs local foster families who will play an essential role in preparing the puppies for a life of service.
“It will be meeting every week or two and we do group activities, and we go to town with the puppies and we train them and it’s an essential part of the whole process because they’re really the ones to get them ready to do what they do,” Martyn told MTN News.
A litter of golden retrievers was given to Martyn by a woman in Eastern Montana who had a friend become paralyzed after a diving accident. Her belief in the value of service dogs brought these puppies here to be trained by one of the best.
"They save people's lives but even if they never save your life, they make your life so much better with independence, the quality of life and the bond that’s established with the person that gets them is amazing,” Martyn said.
The bond trainers and foster families experience is amazing as well.
“It's amazing what they learn when they’re this young. They’re like little sponges and they soak it all up. And it’s really fun to be involved with that because you know you’re shaping the skill,” said Pam Hogle who is a canine foster mom. “You see them learning every day.”
“Very rewarding to take a dog and bill their skills and watch them learn and understand the concepts as we go on with the training,” added dog trainer McKay.
The dogs themselves will reveal their strengths as they train so they’ll be matched up with the perfect person for life. They need another year or so before they’re ready for duty, but this is the first step in a new program to improve the lives of those who need the love and expertise of a canine companion.
Visit https://www.firewindtrainingkennels.com/glenn-martyn/ if you are interested in fostering one of the puppies or want to learn more about the program.