Foster puppies in assistance training get field trip to DTW

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Foster puppies in training took over Detroit Metropolitan Airport Tuesday.

"We are at the airport today to expose them to air travel," said Jennifer Hill with Paws With a Cause.

Volunteers of Paws With a Cause, which trains dogs to be assistants to people with disabilities, raise and socialize them the first year of their lives. On Tuesday that meant getting them familiar with the sounds and smells of an airport.

"If your dog is not trained for this, it can be a very stressful environment for them," said Hill. "This exposure is important for the puppies to train them early on to remain calm and stay focused on their hander in the midst of these distractions."

The puppies were led through the McNamara Terminal, onto public transportation and taken into airplanes. 

"This is very different from everywhere else," said volunteer puppy raiser Andrea Dube. "We practice going into elevators, those are all important tasks when you are traveling. Also the walk next to luggage is hard."

The dogs will eventually be able to help the disabled, but with day to day tasks - "The dogs are trained to get the phone, the dogs are trained to alert them to sounds," said Dube.

The dogs will also be trained for life-saving situations.

"If a person has a seizure and falls down, the dog can go get help for that person and help the person stand up," Hill said. 

They also provide emotional support as a secondary service. For the potential owners of these pups, it is a sense of security and total independence. 

"They can go about their lives without the assistance of somebody else," Hill said. "With the dog by their side, they feel confident, they feel independent and feel if they do get into trouble the dog is there to help get them out."