Erin Whitfield, along with her husband and teenage child, just welcomed her 100th assistance dog in training into her home. Erin has been voluntarily raising and training Can Do Canines assistance dogs since her first one entered their home on January 17, 2018. Their 100th dog, Rummi, a yellow Lab mix, happens to be staying with them during her six-year anniversary of volunteering with the organization.
Also currently staying with the Whitfields are two other Can Do Canines in training: Yoko and Tanner, both black Labs. Over the course of their time, the Whitfields have hosted dogs for anywhere from an overnight stay to over a year. Erin says, “We love getting to see how all the different dog personalities work as strengths in their ‘chosen career.’ It fills our hearts to see and hear how life-changing these dogs are for their clients. And it's an added bonus to get to have so many dogs in the house without owning a dog of our own.”
Can Do Canines raises and trains assistance dogs to help people with disabilities with five different types of challenges: hearing, mobility, seizure, diabetes, and autism. The process of raising and training these dogs takes approximately two-and-a-half to three years, with volunteers throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin playing a key role in the organization’s success. Hundreds of people like Erin volunteer to host one or more of the approximately 250 dogs that are in training at any given time.
Since Can Do Canines is located in New Hope, Minnesota, Erin makes regular trips to the organization for supplies, dog exchanges, etc., but is also able to coordinate with others involved to minimize the driving.
Erin has also taken the lead this past year by serving as a “Pack Leader” of other Can Do Canines volunteers in the Eau Claire area. In this role, she offers support and coordinates group outings for the members.