At Seven Summits Centre for Learning, the grade eight and nine students complete a year-long “Rite of Passage Experience” project (R.O.P.E).
This project introduces the students to new areas of study and skill practice as they work with community mentors.
A project of special interest this year was Maddi Hampton’s dog training project where she learned how to teach dogs to become certified assistance animals for the Leash of Hope Assistance Dogs program.
Maddi admits she may not have been inspired to do this if not for the R.O.P.E project. Now Maddi is working diligently with her second dog and may even see a future career in training these rescue pups.
Using Leash of Hope methods, dogs are trained to be certified assistance dogs in the areas of autism, psychological, vision, mobility, and stability assistance. Maddi continues to work with Leash of Hope as a junior trainer.
To begin, Maddi reached out through the Leash of Hope website, and shortly after met the two owners who started her training sessions.
She learned what stages and tests the dogs would have to progress through to become certified assistance dogs and what her role as a junior trainer would be in this process.
Most dogs are rescue dogs. Maddi’s first pup, Valor, and current pup, Hamlet, are both rescue dogs from Texas. Each level of training the dogs accomplish moves them closer to being placed with a person in need.
Level one focuses on the basics where the dog learns to respond to commands. As they pass to level two, the dog learns specific skills. In level three, the dog specializes in a class of assistance: bigger dogs are generally mobility and stability dogs like guide dogs.
Under Maddi’s coaching, her first dog moved into level three, and he is now being tested as a guide dog. Maddi’s current pup, under her training, has just passed level two testing.
Maddi loves dogs and the R.O.P.E. project at Seven Summits Centre gave her the opportunity to not only try a new task but also to help make a difference in the world.
“I may not have thought to do this at all if not for the 7S R.O.P.E project. I just wanted to make a difference and contribute positively through a higher purpose, so training the dogs gave me the chance to do that,” says Maddi. “I love it so much that I think it may be a future career option for me, but I am already learning and loving teaching the dogs.”
Maddi hopes this can be an opportunity to bring awareness and education to the community about assistance/service dogs and the need for supporting important organizations like Leash of Hope.
Leash of Hope’s mission is to provide independence beyond a disability.
“Assistance dogs provide a sense of security, calming effect, and physical exercise that can make a positive impact on the lives of our clients,” said Hampton. “These dogs are trained to work or perform tasks that lessen the client’s disability.
”Leash of Hope is unique and special because it will also serve as a place of healing allowing our clients an opportunity to ‘find a new mission and better quality of life’ as do the rescued shelter puppies we train for a purpose. This unique approach offers hope at both ends of the leash.”
Maddi is a hardworking, committed student who is intent on training dogs to help others gain back their independence. She is an inspiring example of how Seven Summits Centre for Learning offers many options for students to engage in unique and personalized learning experiences.
For more info go to leashofhopeassistancedogs.com.