The founding non-profit Fire Team K-9’s Inc. was formed by retired Canadian military veterans based on the principle of partnership between dogs and their people. Fire Team K-9’s Inc. (FTK-9) is a proud service dog provider for Wounded Warriors Canada and the Royal Canadian Legion, Ontario Command.
FTK-9 service dogs are trained to help a veteran reintegrate into civilian life, noted Jen Hinch, director of operations and service dog co-ordinator.
“Often times our service dog is the missing piece of the puzzle for a veteran’s successful recovery from military life,” she added. “Soldiers are trained to rely on their fire team partner while serving in the military. Our service dogs are, in a sense, a fire team partner for civilian life. Having a partner by their side gives a veteran an increased sense of confidence and security, which in turn helps increase their chance of success after a life of military service.”
The bond between a service dog and handler grows through extensive training together, over time, Hinch noted, adding the learning process is very similar to how a military unit functions seamlessly with experience and practice together.
“A service dog and handler pairing is a unique relationship formed by matching the right dog with the right handler,” she said. “By getting this match right both the dog and the veteran gain independence and a renewed purpose, together. Both service dogs and handlers are trained. They are taught to rely on and serve each other in a reciprocal partnership and the bonds that form are exceptional to witness.”
Highlights of the first year of business include serving more than 1,000 pets at the headquarters, offering eight different classes each month for dogs and their families and expanding the team of dedicated and qualified dog training instructors.
Fire Team K-9’s also offers a student trainer program, which allows students to participate in dog training classes and work with service dogs while gathering community service hours required to graduate secondary school. High school co-op students also work at K-9 Headquarters in the doggy day care. This school credit program allows students to get an education on dog behaviour, dog training, and general business knowledge.