Hello everyone!

It’s been a while since the last newsletter for which I apologize but CTDS is very much up and running from Calgary through to Strathmore.

So what’s been happening in 2016 and what’s upcoming for CTDS in the next few months?

So far in 2016 we have seen a development of both Listening Tails and Caring Tails and a consolidation of our Visiting Tails programs:

Listening Tails: by the time the schools closed for the summer break, CTDS was in eight schools and all of them giving the program and handlers great reviews. We also continued offering Listening Tails in the Chestermere library on Sunday afternoons. Thank you to everyone involved who have made this program so successful! In April I was invited to attend a Board meeting of Rocky View schools. East Lake gave a short presentation on Listening Tails and the success they’ve experienced through the program. After the presentation a number of the Rocky View Board members asked me questions and expressed their complete support for the work CTDS is doing in their schools. I would like to take the opportunity to pass on their thanks to you all.

Caring Tails: this program has always been one where CTDS will respond to situations of crisis or stress when they arise. During 2016 so far, we have visited the Chestermere High School over exam times, worked with an eight year old boy who has autism, carried out regular visits to Henry Wise Wood Senior High School in Calgary as well as rolling out the program to Langdon School where two of our handlers take their dogs twice a week to help certain students going through challenging times. The response to our dogs has been heartwarming.

Visiting Tails: we have maintained our presence in six seniors’ homes: Prince of Peace (both The Manor and The Harbour), Sage Wood and Wheatland Lodge in Strathmore and two of the Chartwell locations in Calgary (Eau Claire and Mission). As a result of the visits our handlers are making to these facilities, we continue to receive heartfelt thanks from both seniors themselves as well as the managers. Thank you all for taking time out to visit with the seniors.

As of the end of August, we have forty one dogs active in the program and forty nine volunteers helping us.

For the period January through July, CTDS volunteers had amassed a staggering 1,677.25 hours of volunteer time!

The growth of CTDS can only happen once a lot of background activity has happened, both from an operational as well as a fundraising perspective. In that regard, I’d like to share with you some of the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on:

  • Dog assessments: as you know, before a dog joins our program it has to be assessed for suitability. So far in 2016, fifteen dogs have been assessed, with eleven of them passing the assessment. Of the eleven that passed, three are still in the process of having their medicals done or the handler is waiting on police checks. I would like to express my gratitude to Chestermere Vet Clinic and Dr Gabby in particular who provide the medical exams for prospective dogs free of charge.
  • Fundraising: we have received several donations from the community as well as growth in the number of donors giving us their bottles and cans for recycling. Although we are a 100% volunteer driven charity there are still a number of expenses to be covered off so fundraising support is very much appreciated.
  • Awareness: before people volunteer their time or donate to our cause they need to understand what we do and why. As such, we have continued to get out into the community so that people can get to know us better. This has included the Spring Fair, Canada Day and presentations to groups such as the Beavers. We also took part in the annual Mutt Show hosted by Dogma Training Services in Calgary: not only did this event give us good visibility but we were the recipients over more than $700 raised on the day for our charity. You may not realize it but, being a charity registered with Canada Revenue Agency, you can look up certain information, including financials, about CTDS online at cra.gc.ca .
  • Board activity: our Board meets monthly, September through June, at the Chestermere library normally on the third Monday of the month at 7 o’clock. Some of the items completed in 2016 included Strategic Planning, the Volunteer Appreciation policy and the first stage of reviewing our Bylaws. Please note: the Board meetings are open to anyone who would like to attend.

At this point I need to thank everyone who was involved in the planning of our Canine Convention which was scheduled for June 18th but unfortunately had to be cancelled. Significant work had gone into the planning over the previous nine months but the general state of the economy and such disasters as the Fort McMurray fire worked against us. Even though cancellation was disappointing, we built some great contacts moving forward which will stand us in good stead.

So what does the future hold for CTDS?

  • At the end of this month, Listening Tails is being rolled into Bearspaw School: this will be school number nine for the program.
  • We were approached last month by a lady hoping to get help for herself and her son with our Caring Tails program. We are planning to start helping her this month.
  • In early 2017 we are likely to start our Caring Tails program at East Lake School.
  • Trinity Lodge seniors’ residence in S.W. Calgary are keen for us to start visiting. This will likely start in October.
  • I have been asked to host a Therapy Dog seminar sometime in the Fall: details still to come.
  • We were asked by Renfrew Educational Services to start working with their group. Whether this happens will be determined by availability of our handlers.
  • The Fall Fair is on September 10th where CTDS will both be in the parade and have a table in the Rec Centre throughout the day of the Fair. Please visit us if you’re in the area.

As time marches on, there will come a time when some of our dogs start having health issues and need to retire from the program. This year has seen two such situations:  Koda the Newfoundland and Bernie the St Bernard. Both dogs have been great assets to our program and we wish them all the very best in their golden years. And thank you Candace and Angela for bringing these two great dogs into our program.

At the other end of the time spectrum, congratulations to Erin on the birth of a son, Andreas, on July 10th! Erin has taken a step away from the program for a short while but promises me she will be back with Nestles in the not too distant future.

In order to help more people in the community, we are always on the lookout for people who have great dogs and who want to learn more about what we do. If you know of such people, please have them call me on 587 581 5571 or email me on steve@ctds.ca .

The future is very exciting for CTDS and the success of the first two and a half years has only been made possible by the tremendous contribution you have made to the program. THANK YOU ALL!