FALL RIVER: John Stewart is helping to give a First Responder a second Chance at life through being a puppy raiser with the Canadian Intervention and Assistance Dogs (CIAD).
Stewart and his wife are “puppy raisers” for Chance, who will be paired with a first responder that could use his help. First, will be a training for 12-18 months before he goes to that responder.
Stewart, of Fall River, knows the help a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) service dog like Chance can be after doing 36 years in the Navy and 12 years as a firefighter.
“I know a couple of people that have PTSD, the extent of the injury, so raising Chance was right up my alley,” said Stewart.
He found out through a post on Facebook that CIAD was looking for puppy raisers. After doing some research, he was game to become one.
“I love dogs, I have had dogs for more than 30 years,” he said.
Stewart said it’s been interesting having Chance. They have a four-year-old dog at home, and there are times they don’t get along.
“It can be very time consuming too,” he said. “The training takes a lot of time, but Chance is smart and he picks it up quickly.”
The Stewart’s have had Chance since he was about 10 weeks old. He is now six-and-a-half months.
CIAD is a N.S.-based group that is about two years old. They raise dogs for first responders with PTSD (firefighters; police; and Paramedics). They will be looking at getting started with a program aimed at assisting Veterans.
People can donate to CIAD online, said Stewart.
He’s been very welcomed in the Fall River area, with businesses like Tim Hortons and Sobeys not flinching an eye as he walks the aisle, service dog vest on and all, with Stewart.
“I go shopping and people are used to him,” he said. “They love seeing me in there walking with him.
“I’ve had him into Kent, and they said anytime I want to bring him in for training I’m more than welcome to.”
Chance’s name couldn’t be more fitting.
“I know the reason for raising him,” said Stewart. “They’ve told me there’s a good chance I’ll get to meet the person that is getting him.
“It’s rewarding to just give back to others with PTSD.”
PHOTO: John Stewart of Fall River is raising Chance, who will be paired with a first responder from Emergency Health Services (EHS) that could use his help. Chance is a puppy with CIAD, and Stewart is a volunteer puppy raiser with the N.S.-based group. Chance is welcomed at locations such as the Fall River Tim Hortons. (Healey photo)