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Author writes children’s book to support service dog training group

Wynne Edwards has seen first-hand the impact of a service dog.
When her son Ian lost his vision, he got a service dog to help guide him through daily life.
“They change people’s lives,” Edwards said.
Edwards was so impressed by service dogs and the people who train them and make them available, she has devoted herself to the cause.
The latest effort by the former Fort Macleod resident and author of The Macleod Gazette column “Back Then” was to write a book as a fund-raiser.
On March 27 Edwards, accompanied by friend Bonnie Kennedy of Fort Macleod, read that book to W.A. Day school students.
On Saturday, the two women were at Fort Macleod RCMP Centennial Library for another reading.
Almost all 500 copies of A Dog For Uncle Peter have been sold, with the entire $20 purchase price going to the service dog organization Dogs With Wings.
“What’s nice about this program is there are so many uses for the dogs,” Edwards said, explaining there are many uses for a service dog. “Training a dog for the blind is the hardest — their lives depend on it.”
After their son Ian got his first service dog, Wynne and her husband Bill got involved by hosting dogs.
“We went to see the puppies, which was a mistake,” Edwards said with a laugh.
They took the puppy Barney home and kept him for eight weeks until he went to a puppy raiser for a year, and then at 14 months to an adult raiser who takes the dog to school every day.
“It was interesting,” Edwards said. “We didn’t take another puppy because it was either the puppy or the marriage. It’s just a lot of work.”
The Edwards became adult raisers, fostering 15 dogs, and Wynne took charge of editing the newsletter for Dogs With Wings.
During her nursing career Edwards wrote curriculum, academic papers and a thesis, and began her creative writing career upon retiring from nursing.
A number of Edwards’ short stories and essays were published in literary journals and anthologies.
Edwards four years ago conceived of writing a children’s book about service dogs and selling it as a fund-raiser for Dogs With Wings.
“It was a whole new line of writing for me,” Edwards said. “I had to learn to write for children.”
The story details how a young boy named Johnathan helps convince his uncle Peter, who loses his sight as the result of a brain injury in a car crash, get a service dog.
“It’s a fictional story but of course it is based on a lot of our experiences,” Edwards said.
Christine Tang illustrated A Dog For Uncle Peter.
Recently in appreciation of Edwards’ long-time support, Dogs With Wings bestowed a special honour.
Each litter of Lab pups is named by letter, and Dogs With Wings is now up to “Z.”
“It’s like I got the Order of Canada,” Edwards said with a laugh. “They got to the ‘W’ group just before Christmas and named one after me.”
“It was so exciting.”
A Dog For Uncle Peter is available at The Macleod Gazette.

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