We are here to help our neighbours, friends and family resurface from the depths of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

We are here to help our neighbours, friends and family resurface from the depths of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

We are here to help our neighbours, friends and family resurface from the depths of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

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Our Program

Our program begins by carefully matching veterans to their service dog. Broken into three distinct phases, veterans are led through twice-weekly training sessions over the course of one year. Guided by professional trainers, and a mental health clinical practitioner, the program is based on Integrated Victory Management, focused on rewards and accomplishments

The goal of the program is the training and successful graduation of a fully certified Stress Injury Service and Support Dog (SI-SSD) that remains in the veteran’s care.

To ensure the program is available to everyone who needs it, all dog and travel-related expenses are covered by VICD. This includes dog food, veterinary treatments, obedience training, training equipment and gas cards to cover travel to class. VICD recognizes the impact loved ones can have on a veteran’s recovery. We invite family and friends to attend our monthly support sessions to learn about the program and its methods. 

The bond created through each team is life altering. Our dogs learn to be emotionally tuned to their person and their unique triggers. They’re able to wake veterans from nightmares, ground them from a hyper-aroused state, and support them unconditionally through the stresses and trauma of everyday life.  Get Involved, Donate Now.

VICD Graduate
Greg Alkerton, on how
Ace came into his life.

By 52 Media, for the documentary War Stories V.
Read more Team Stories

How to Apply

1. Apply:

Fill out and submit the attached application form. Application form
You will need a letter from a psychologist and/or psychiatrist confirming your diagnosis of PTSD and recommending you for the program. Fill out the application online or submit, by email, fax or mailed to the VICD’s administrative office. Contact us

2a. Meet with us:

You will have an interview with our team, (consisting of the dog behaviorist, administrator, and mental health team) The interview is a chance for us to get to know each other and see if this is the program for you.

2b. Meet VICD:

Meet with two VICD representatives in your home with all members of the household present to review the program and for you and your loved ones to ask questions.

3. Finding a dog for you:

We will have a meet and greet day where you will meet 2 to 4 dogs. We will then discuss which we feel will work best for you and then the dog will do a sleep over.

4. Begin the training program:

You and your dog will meet with us bi-weekly for 52 weeks or more for lessons, guidance, and exercises. At home, you will need to practice all of the exercises and drills learned in your training sessions.

5. Become certified:

We follow the guide lines for the BC Guide Dog and Service dog Assessment. After VICD training is complete, and you decide to do the Public Assess part of the program we will prepare for the Government test.

For Professionals Making a Referral:

If you are referring a client we need a letter on your letterhead with the following three items:
1. That the client has a PTSD Diagnoses.
2. That the client is ready for the program.
3. How often the client sees you.

For Frequently Asked Questions

Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs (V.I.C.D.) Training Program

I have a dog and want it to be a service dog?

VICD will pair you up with one of our foster dogs. Our foster dogs have been donated form BC Guide Dogs or PADS. If you have a dog we can assess it for a service dog but only 1 in 10 have what takes to make the transition from pet dog to service dog. http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/justice/human-rights/guide-and-service-dog

Do I need to be in Counselling through the program?

VICD is a dog training school therefore we recommend that you see your psychologist, counsellor or psychiatrist at lease twice a month. Sometimes issues come up and it is good to talk to your Mental Health Counsellor.

How long is the Program?

This program is approximately 52 weeks in total. 

How do I get my dog?

Once you are accepted into the program you will be matched with a dog by our training team.

How much does the program cost me?

Nothing but your time, and your commitment to come to the classes. VICD pays between $25,000 and $30,000 in costs by fund-raising. 

How many time a week do I need to come?

You will be required to attend obedience classes in Nanoose Bay once per week and attend VICD training sessions in Qualicum once per week. Gas Cards are provided in an effort to offset the cost of travelling from your home community to attend these 2 sessions each week.

Obedience lessons: how many and how long are they?

There are 3 levels of obedience classes  – each level is approximately 8 weeks long. Classes are held once a week in Nanoose Bay at Sal Pacific Dog School by Instructor Mike Annan (who is also VICD’s head dog trainer). Classes usually begin around 5,6 or 7 pm and are held in a large training room with approximately 8 other participants mostly from the general public. Another VICD team member is also present during these classes. (Previously classes have been scheduled on Sundays or Mondays but please note: classes may be scheduled for any day of the week depending on the class sizes and level attending.) 

What happens on Wednesday in Qualicum?

Classes are held at the VICD training centre, with the VICD staff and those training with VICD will be there.
Schedule is as follows:
10-11 first class
11-11:15 homework given out
11:15-11:30 Meeting for everyone
11:30-12:30 second class

What do we do in the training sessions on Wednesday?

The VICD training session reviews the lesson from your most recent obedience class and provides the opportunity for you to master the lesson with the support of the training team or to address any training issues that may have arisen during the week.
Suggestions on how to improve your handling skills is provided to you each week by the trainers.

How do I know which class I am in?

You just need to check where your name is on the schedule and be there.  You also need to be there for the 11:15-11:30 meeting. 

Is there something for my loved one?

Every third Wednesday we have a loved ones support group. This is a place for your loved ones to ask questions about the service dog and the changes in your lives.

What to I do during rest of the week?

Walk your dog twice daily or more. and practice your obedience you learnt that week for 2-3 minutes 4 to 6 times a day. It can be during a walk or at home. 

Examples of training skills per level

There are the three levels of Dog obedience. Each level is 8 sessions. What is taught in each level is listed below.

Level 1 Core Skills – Basic Obedience, Sit, Down, Stay, Stand, Heel, Recall and Present.

Level 2 Essentials – Handler Confidence training with Obstacles, Automatic Sit Stay, Take it – Leave it, Accepting a Friendly Stranger, Politely Accept Petting, Door Exercises, Come When Called.

Level 3 Cultivating the Essentials – Loose Dog Exercise, Walking Through a Crowd, Reaction to Passing a Dog, Off leash Recall, Stand for examination, Accepting a friendly Stranger, Walking through a Doorway with a Dog Present, Come When Called Off Leash, Meet and Greet (dog to dog interactions), Reaction to Distractions.

What happens when I finish my Sunday obedience lessons?

Once you have completed all 3 levels of obedience classes you will take the Canadian Good Neighbour (CGN) Test.

How do I prepare for Public Access?

If you choose to proceed to Public access certification you will no longer be attending weekly obedience classes in Nanoose Bay, but will continue to attend the VICD weekly training and will begin attending additional training sessions with our trainers to prepare you for the Public Access test.

When do I take the new BC Government Guide Dog and Service Dog Assessment?

You will only take the Government Test when VICD feels that you are ready. There is no rush to complete this part.

How do I prepare?

You will be well prepared by our training team prior to any testing being arranged. 

If there are any questions you may still have, please contact us.

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