GEORGE PREVOST retired from a successful teaching career when a tragic fire at Carleton Elementary School suddenly changed the trajectory of its many teachers. Always a fan of dogs, but not a dog-owner due to his lifestyle, George now trains Labs and Golden Retrievers with PADS (Pacific Assistant Dog Society), a volunteer organization that breeds, raises and trains assistance dogs for physically disabled and hard-of-hearing clients.
“The dogs make a big impact on their surroundings,” he says, describing his new life as a puppy trainer.
Training starts at eight weeks and continues until they are able to help those who cannot function in their daily lives without the assistance of dogs who are taught to push elevator buttons, bring shoes and open cupboards.
“The dogs are also a social icebreaker and they provide a lot of companionship,” George continues, referring both to the experience of PADS dog clients and their trainers.
“The community of trainers is very strong,” he says. “People often come for the dogs, and stay for the people.”
NICOLE RENWICK is a bilingual Canadian who resides in both BC and Quebec. Living most of her year in Vancouver, she decided it would be an asset to learn a third language that would expand her later volunteering opportunities.
As Executive Director of the non-profit Vancouver-based Memorial Society of BC, Nicole advises members about end-of-life arrangements during the day. In her off hours, she decided her new challenge would be to learn Mandarin.
Why take on such a difficult challenge, she was repeatedly asked. “Why not?” she replies. “I see my life as being on cruise control with very few limitations. Why stop learning now?”
It’s that approach that has earned her a 90% average in grammar and reading. While writing takes longer to learn, she has mastered her Mandarin name: Ren, Ning
Verena Foxx is a Vancouver writer/educator. Each month, she will explore how people across BC are living, transforming and re-imagining their 55+ lives. To share a story with Verena, email her at email@example.com