SASKATOON – Eight rescued dogs took centre stage at a puppy party in Saskatoon Tuesday, as people with intellectual disabilities formed a circle, grabbed a pup and shared their stories. Put together by Best Buddies and New Hope Dog Rescue, the event took place at the Saskatchewan Association for Community Living.
Organizers say the hope is that people walked away with new friendships.
“An animal is just the unconditional love and I think everybody wants to feel and that’s what inclusion is all about,” said Carolyn Ganes, youth and family network coordinator at Best Buddies.
“With people with intellectual disabilities, a lot of times there is a problem with isolation,” she added.
Ganes adds that finding meaningful employment and finding ways to socialize is an ongoing challenge as well.
“Dogs just make such a positive impact on our lives. We always say we’re rescuing them, but really they’re the ones doing the rescuing, ” said Ashley Marchi, executive director of New Hope Dog Rescue.
The puppies featured at the party are six-week-old rescued dogs looking for loving homes. In two weeks, they’ll be healthy enough for adoption.
Lauren Hampton is hoping she can get her hands on one of them, if her parents let her. She attended the event and says she’s grateful for the animals in her life. Hampton’s dog recently passed away from cancer but she says she hopes for a new dog soon.
“They’re good friends. They love walks and playing. They’re good for company. Like a brother or sister, they keep you protected,” she said.
Hampton added that dogs have made her life better and she’s made friends because of it.