(Disclaimer:  this site is under construction.  Additional information and resources will be added as our schedule permits - our emphasis is on training and producing service dog teams, not electronic media.)

Heelers 4 Heroes / Healers 4 Hope is a nonprofit corporation organized under the laws of the State of Ohio for the purpose of breeding, rescuing and training Australian Cattle Dogs to become Psychiatric Service Dogs.  We proudly serve veterans, first responders, and civilians alike at no cost to the recipient.

It is our philosophy that owner training creates an unbreakable bond between the canine and Handler.   We  never want cost to prevent a disabled person from achieving independence and a higher quality of life.

Hero defined:  A person (or dog) who is admired or idolized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.

 Maka plays ball during a break on a road trip.

Maka plays ball during a break on a road trip.

 We train dogs for:

  • PTSD/TBI

  • Autism assistance

  • Psychiatric assistance

Additionally, we will cross train for mobility issues and hearing disabilities for those who face these additional challenges.

We encourage all persons requiring a service dog to copy our program and reproduce it nationally. In our Resource tab you will find training field cards and video resources which we use daily. Additionally, you will find some video of our program and methods we employ in training public access and specific Service Dog tasks.

There are many, many training videos that are far better than anything we could create, which is why we include those links on our Resource page.

 Healthy puppies ready to learn and be your best friend!

Healthy puppies ready to learn and be your best friend!

Australian Cattle Dogs / Our Dog or Yours

We purpose breed Australian Cattle Dogs (“Heelers”) (please refer to Why Cattle Dogs located on our Resource page for more specific breed information) producing litters of vibrant puppies specifically suited for life as a Service Dog.  From three days of age, we employ neurological stimulation, holding, stroking, and various environmental stimulators such as household noises, different surfaces, children, etc., which desensitizes the pup.  We birth and raise these puppies in our home environment, the environment in which they will spend the rest of their lives.  We do not raise them in kennels or barns or fenced in areas away from humans.  During the first weeks of their lives, they enjoy family night with us and our pack of dogs every evening.  Pups learn manners and balanced behaviors from our pack of dogs.  Early socialization with other dogs reduces dog aggression so prevalent in today’s canines.

Early bonding with the Handler between 11 and 16 weeks of age, combined with early and immediate basic training in public access creates an unbreakable bond with his new Handler, a true miracle of nature and nurturing.  All puppies undergo a specialized Puppy Aptitude Test to determine suitability as a Service Dog, while observing them daily in our home allows us to identify traits and characteristics which we match appropriately to the individual Handler’s lifestyle.

 Maka at 50 lbs.; Mia at 27 lbs.

Maka at 50 lbs.; Mia at 27 lbs.

Dog Size

We also consider the dog size; unless you are a Handler that requires mobility tasks, it is not necessary to have an 80 pound Service Dog.  Accordingly, our strains of dogs range in size from 25 to 70 pounds upon maturity.  Traveling in an airplane or Uber compact car with an 80 pound dog by itself is a challenge, throw in some luggage or a small child and it’s almost impossible!

From the time these pups are paired with their Handlers they begin training.  Initial basic obedience and public access training is performed at Lowes home improvement store.  This venue provides the perfect environment for this type of training.  Additionally, with the multitude of Lowes stores in Toledo, Ohio, we save millions and millions of dollars in facilities costs.  The stores also allow great latitude and flexibility in our training schedules and locations; we can serve all corners of our community.  We are very grateful to The Lowes Corporation and their employees for their kindness and training support.  Currently we are training several times each week at several locations in the greater Toledo area.

 Missy is a fast learner too!

Missy is a fast learner too!

Your Dog

We will consider your dog under certain conditions. We choose not to work with dogs that display aggressive traits towards humans or other dogs. Although we feel that almost any dog’s behavior can be modified, the amount of time and effort to achieve those behavior modifications is counterproductive. Additionally, in our group training settings, aggressive dogs disrupt the training classes, can be dangerous and affect other dogs in the program that are not aggressive. We are happy to evaluate and test your adult dog or puppy for suitability in our program.

We appreciate the efforts to utilize rescue and shelter dogs, and in certain situations we ourselves utilize these dogs. The problem that occurs from using these dogs is the unknown regarding health histories, temperament histories, etc. Training a Service Dog requires an enormous investment in time and patience. The end result we are striving for is a magical solution to persons with disabilities that will reoccur on a daily basis for many, many years to come. You have to ask yourself:  do I want awesomeness or mediocrity?

Time and Commitment

Meeting several times monthly for training at Lowes will produce a fully functioning Service Dog team in approximately 9 – 18 months, depending on the particulars of the situation.

 Training in Lowes.

Training in Lowes.

Training Philosophy

Generally, working with puppies does not require prong collars, E collars, and or aversive corrections. But we do have those tools in our toolbox if required. Personally, if used correctly and humanely, these are invaluable tools. Watching dogs my entire life, breeding dogs, training puppies, and correcting behavioral problems in adult dogs has allowed me to come to my own conclusions and methods which I employ. My female alpha dog/mom dog corrects the puppies and pack far more severely than I do. There is a large dichotomy and passionate debate about purely positive training versus aversive training methods. We do not hook into those debates. Frankly and honestly, if you’re looking for purely positive training, this is probably not the place for you.

 Your Service Dog goes everywhere with you.

Your Service Dog goes everywhere with you.

Is a Service Dog right for you?  Double edged sword

Before going any further, you need to ask yourself if a Service Dog is right for you?  Some of the pros can be cons in disguise.  You cannot train a dog to be by your side and monitor your mental state of mind and body chemistry 24 hours a day, then leave him at home. To him, this is punishment!  A Service Dog is a long-term solution; many dogs can perform their duties for over ten years.  You need to think this through and ask yourself “where will I be ten years from now and what changes am I going to go through between now and then?”  These changes may include your employment situation. Just because your employer today is accepting of your Service Dog in the workplace doesn’t mean that will be the situation four to six years from now.  Additionally, just because the law states that employers and housing have to make reasonable accommodations and businesses have to allow public access, to think this occurs every time without a struggle and some stress is in Never-Neverland reality.  

Sometimes your dog will draw unwanted attention; something that those of us with anxiety try to avoid.  The bottom line is a Service Dog equates to work and commitment.  This is not a stuffed animal you can set on your dresser when you grow tired of it.  The other side of the coin is that my dog continuously monitors my emotional state and environment, then independently decides when I need comfort, confidence or caution.  He is always loyal and faithful, he always, ALWAYS has my six and doesn’t care what we do or where we go, as long as we do it together!