New puppy trainee raising spirits at Edmonton airport

YEG, a 12-week old puppy, will be undergoing training at the Edmonton International Airport (EIA) as part of his journey to become a service dog.

“YEG is going to get exposed to all types of people, and places, and sights, and sounds,” said Doreen Slessor with Dogs with Wings. “What better place than the airport for that to happen.”

During a time when much fewer people are travelling and those who are might not be in high spirits, YEG is being appreciated by staff and passengers.

“He’s so sweet and he seems very smart. He put a smile on my face,” said one security guard.

“It’s different when people come into my office and all of a sudden they see a dog,” said Tom Ruth, the CEO of EIA and one of YEG’s trainers. “We’ve had the dogs come in for a board meeting and (it was) definitely a stress reliever.”

YEG is the third service dog to be trained by Ruth and his wife Micki.

“He has to get used to lying down by me, being calm and waiting until that meeting is over,” said Micki Ruth. “When the jacket is on he has to concentrate on me or whoever has the leash and not play.”

Dogs with Wings was founded in 1996 to train guide dogs for people who are visually impaired. Over the years they have expanded the range of dogs they train.

“When he is about 14-months-old he will decide if he is going to be an autism dog, a service dog, a facility dog or a companion dog,” said Slessor.

YEG is expected to be training at the airport, and cheering up people there, for several months.

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Dave Mitchell