St. George nonprofit raises furbaby superheroes

In this December 2016 file photo J.J. a dog raised up by Loving Angel Service Dogs, snuggles up with Lucien Tucker. Lucien has autism and was experiencing severe anxiety and having frequent temper tantrums in public. His family told St. George News in December 2016 that since J.J. was placed with Lucien, his behavior had demonstrably turned around. Read the story here Washington, Utah, circa fall 2016 | Photo courtesy of Rebekah Tucker, St. George News

FEATURE — In our lifetimes we meet thousands who impact us in one way or another – not only people but furry little things that make our days better: dogs. They are our confident and loyal partners. They’re there no matter what. And they can be great help as well as the Loving Angel Service Dogs raised and trained up in St. George demonstrate.

Loving Angels Service Dogs Katie, St. George, Utah, circa 2016 | Photo courtesy of Loving Angels Service Dogs, St. George News

Loving Angel Service Dogs is a nonprofit organization that places labradoodles in homes with people who suffer with disabilities.

Labradoodles are a mix of half labrador, half poodle. They are loving animals and very loyal.

The organization is strictly based on donations and volunteers who assist in training these beautiful animals six times a week so they may be of help to those in need. Each morning the dogs are groomed, get their teeth brushed and nails trimmed so they are ready for the day. They are trained with different duties; each dog is assigned certain tasks so that when they’re ready for the new handlers, they’ll know exactly what to do.

Cathy Powell, founder of Loving Angel, said she knows which dog will go to each handler by observation. She watches how they interact but makes the final decision through prayer.

Loving Angel Service Dogs is different than most training centers. Powell allows the dogs’ prospective handlers to interact with them before it’s time for them to be together. Each night, she has the dogs sleep with a shirt from their future handlers. This allows the dogs to become acquainted with their new handler’s smell, she said, and allows them to become closer sooner.

Loving Angel Service Dogs founder Cathy Powell with Gabe. St. George, Utah, date not provided | Photo courtesy of Loving Angels Service Dogs, St. George News

In order for the service dogs to finish their training, they must complete four steps with their new handlers: grooming, training, exercising and playing with the dogs.

The more time they spend with each other, the closer they get.

Most importantly, the dogs are trained to be patient. Each person is different and needs help with different duties, so teaching the dogs to be patient is imperative, and over time a unique and close bond between them forms.

Because the relationship between dog and handler is so important, this training takes about two years. It is essential that this process happens over a period of time so that the dogs are fully prepared to be of great help to their new handlers. These dogs are not only serving their handlers physically but emotionally as well. They provide comfort and, most importantly, become partners to their new beloved handlers.

When their training is done, they are given to their new handler, certified. They are off to impact someone else’s life and be a great and needed support to them. Not only are these Labradoodles beautiful, they are life-changing dogs.

See more: 

If you know someone with a disability who would like some help or would like to volunteer, visit the Loving Angel website or contact Powell directly at telephone 435-632-2482.

Remember, sometimes heroes don’t wear capes, they wear dog tags.

Rosario E. Flores

Written by Rosario E. Flores for St. George Heath and Wellness magazine and St. George News. Rosario is a student at Dixie State University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communication studies. She is passionate about finding opportunities to create beneficial relationships among people. On her time off, she enjoys hiking and traveling to explore new cultures.



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