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Welcome Elsa to SPYNATION

 Welcome Elsa to SPYNATION

SPY Swim Team has a new swimming advisor… her name is Elsa. She is a six month old, beautiful Black Lab/Golden Retriever mix puppy. She is part of the 4 PAWS for Ability Dogs in Training. Coach Courtney Speakman was selected to be one of the Wittenberg University students to conduct in the socializing training aspect of this puppy for school semester. Coach Courtney went through a vetting process and attended special trainer sessions to be selected. Elsa was named from the Disney Character from “Frozen”. During her time on campus, Elsa lives with Coach Courtney, who is expected to take the Elsa out in public as much as possible, including classes, sporting events and anywhere she can socialize with people and experience new situations. With the approval of Paul Weber, our Springfield Family Y CEO, and Head Coach John Bishop, Courtney will be permitted to have Elsa at swim practices. Elsa did make her first appearance at last Wednesday Advanced and Presenior practices. Courtney explained the 4 PAWS for Ability Training Program and Guidelines for Elsa at practices for our swimmers. Elsa will be along side of Coach Courtney. If you like to meet and pet Elsa, we ask that you or your swimmer ask permission first.

Karen Shirk founded the 4 PAWS for Ability in 1998. Now, the program has grown to train dogs for various Assistance services for Alzheimer’s disease, Autism, Diabetic Alert, FASD, Hearing Ear, Mobility Assistance, Seizure, Veteran, Multipurpose, and Facilitated Guide. The idea of college students socializing puppies destined to become service dogs came about when 4 PAWS was contacted by Wittenberg University in Springfield in 2008. 4 PAWS has expanded the College Foster Program to include 11 other Ohio universities. Currently, about 400 students and over 130 dogs are involved, with five more programs in the works at other universities.

Like other 4 PAWS dogs, Elsa has undergone basic obedience training, potty training and crate training at one of the five Ohio prisons that 4 PAWS works with before socialization training began. Then, she was placed with Courtney about a week ago. After Elsa’s socialization training with Courtney, Elsa will be returned to the 4 PAWS main facility where the dog learns service dog skills.

4 PAWS for Ability part of the dogs training. Check out the Video: https://vimeo.com/119579211

FYI: Costs for Service Dogs

  • At 4 Paws for Ability it costs at least $40,000 to train and place service dog with a disabled child.
  • Through our partial payment for service model, our families can pay or engage in fundraising activities to cover the fee.
  • The fee for a service dog is $17,000.
  • 4 Paws service dogs are required to be re-certified annually with 4 Paws to maintain their skills and public access proficiency. There is no fee associated with this requirement and service dog recipients are not required to travel to 4 Paws.
  • It costs about $1,500 - $2,000 to maintain a service dog each year, or about $100 a month, for proper veterinary care, food, equipment, etc.