Winters are harsh for these adorable pups so these high school students decided to do something about it.
It's a common belief that dogs can withstand cold winters better than humans do because of the thick layer of fur on their bodies. However, that's not completely true. Like humans, dogs face the adverse effects of snowy winters too. In fact, these animals are at a risk of frostbite, hypothermia or even life-threatening complications when exposed to temperatures below zero degrees for a long time. Considering the situation of such needy dogs during extreme Canadian winters, the students of Archbishop Denis O’Connor Catholic High School in Ajax decided to donate the dog houses they built in their construction technology class, per Durham Radio News.
When Alex Ladouceur, technology department faculty at Archbishop Denis O’Connor Catholic High School, was looking for a traditional wood frame carpentry project to teach his construction technology class, dog houses seemed to be the best choice. When deciding on what to do with the finished dog houses, Ladouceur says “I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I could build dog houses with the students and donate them to dogs in need?’” Ladouceur looked for sources to help with his idea of donation and connected with Arista Wogenstahl, Regional Manager of Northern Outreach Services who offered blueprints and schematics for building dog houses with larger door openings and steeper pitched roofs for snow loads that suit well for Northern dogs. Ladouceur's class built three dog houses in 2021 and four in 2022 which were aesthetically decorated with Northern landscape murals by the school's art department.
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The Ontario SPCA and Humane Society came into the picture when the dog houses were ready to be placed for the dogs in need around the Northern communities. Aided by Zachary Corbiere, a bylaw enforcement officer at the United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising, the four dog houses built in 2022 were sent to the tourist-based rural communities of Manitoulin Island. Talking about one of the recipients of the dog houses Corbiere says, “He loved the dog house, the way it was made, the quality, and the artwork that was on it. He said he gets lots of compliments and people are always asking where he got it." He feels that these dog houses have a good impact on the families and the community as a whole since the people in this region work seasonal jobs due to very few full-time year-round positions.
The high school students have inspired other local schools to execute more such collaborative projects that help their communities. Also, Ladouceur feels that the entire dynamic of their construction technology class has changed with the implementation of the service-oriented dog house project. He mentioned "Before, I was really struggling to get females in my class. I would only get maybe one or two girls. Now, this year, partly because of the dog houses, I have an all-girls construction class, because we had so many girls interested."
Ladouceur is working towards raising sufficient funds from local businesses to help students build at least five dog houses this year. Expressing his interest in collaborating with other local schools in the Durham district, he says "If I could get four or five schools on board, making five dog houses a year, I think that’d be awesome." What started as a simple project that was intended to teach carpentry techniques to high school students is now supporting a significant cause while also shifting the dynamics of education.