MONTREAL - On December 5, 2018, the Montreal Canadiens teamed up with the Mira Foundation to become the foster family to a nine-week-old Saint-Pierre Labernese puppy named Flambo.
The organization was then given the important task of socializing him during the first year of his life in hopes that he would eventually become a future guide dog or service dog for a person living with visual impairments or physical disabilities, or for a child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Last September, Flambo returned to Mira for a week during which he underwent various tests in order to determine which program would be best suited for him. The results of this evaluation revealed that he possessed all the essential skills required for the service dog program for people with reduced mobility. Mira dogs who are selected for this program are trained to accompany their beneficiary during their everyday tasks, in addition to physically assisting them in various ways to overcome some of their disabilities or impairments, and thus increase their autonomy.
However, on the eve of his first birthday, which Flambo and the team celebrated on Thursday, medical examinations and X-rays unfortunately revealed that he suffered from elbow dysplasia, a hereditary degenerative disorder that develops in growing dogs. For this reason, the Mira Foundation team thought it would be best to offer him a family life instead of enrolling him in an extensive training program. Although Flambo's boundless energy and love of humans would have made him an excellent service dog, it would have been difficult for him to perform the daily exercises involved in this line of work.
Video: Flambo celebrates his 1st birthday
"When we chose to become a foster family for a Mira dog, our greatest desire was that Flambo would someday be a guide dog or service dog to a beneficiary. A Mira dog makes a huge difference for people with disabilities or to the well-being of children with ASD, and we were happy to contribute," said Geneviève Paquette, vice-president of community engagement for the Montreal Canadiens. "Flambo's mission will take a new turn as he will act as a Mira Foundation ambassador within the Canadiens organization."
The Montreal Canadiens, in partnership with the Mira Foundation, will continue to promote the organization's mission and raise public awareness regarding the importance of integrating and accepting service dogs in public places. Flambo will attend many of the Mira Foundation's community and fundraising events, as well as Canadiens games. Members of the organization, players and fans alike will therefore have the pleasure of continuing to run into Flambo, who already has a very special place in the hearts of everyone that has met him.