Two years ago, Nelson Boyce was searching for a dog with his partner Katelyn Winter for a dog to add to their family. They knew the new family member would need time to adjust, so they decided to wait until we were on summer break from school.
Unfortunately for them, that was at the height of the pandemic when the unfortunate trend of COVID pet adoptions started booming, so it was harder to adopt a dog. They applied to rescues, societies, and other dog sanctuaries daily with no luck. Finally, after months of hunting, they adopted a seven-month-old dog from Cochrane. Unfortunately, they didn’t realize the dog was aggressive towards other canines, and they had no support or idea how to handle it. They were shocked since they weren’t warned about the dog’s behaviour issues.
Luckily, this story doesn’t end here as the couple found a trainer to work with Mia and she transformed her ways. Fast forward to the day Katelyn saw a 7.5 week old puppy for adoption from a small organization — Raya — and they knew they needed to add to her the pack. But that’s just the beginning of the story of why the couple started their own canine rescue, Courageous Canines.
What is the story behind Courageous Canines?
Nelson: “After rescuing two dogs with completely different personalities and issues, we found there was a lack of help to the adopter after adopting a dog. Mia had severe behavioural issues that we had to address immediately. This was stressful, costly and some days we felt like we just weren’t winning. Raya quickly became a medical mystery and continues to be. We have had no support from either rescue. Through all this Katelyn became super interested in training and the medical/nutrition of dogs. She currently has her Canine Nutritionist Certificate and is working towards her Clinical Pet Nutritionist Diploma. She has learned dogs need more out of their owners, whether this be training, medical care or nutrition. We started volunteering for rescues hoping we could lend a hand but this only made us frustrated. We found dogs were not getting much-needed medical or behavioural care for months, or sometimes not at all. However, the rescues continued to bring in more dogs and adopt them out as fast as possible.”
What sets you apart?
Nelson: “We are here for all those involved, the volunteers, fosters, adopters, supports, community members and of course, the dogs. We want the best medical care for them, when they need it. We also want to provide training to every family. Dogs and families go through a lot when transitioning. We offer trainer-led socialization walks for life to every adoptee. We want to ensure the adopters are supported in their journey. We are transparent about all medical and behavioural issues. While a dog is in our care we ensure they have top-notch nutrition, care, and love. We only want the best for all involved. We are here to change the rescue world, and we are determined to do just that.”
What makes your services unique?
Nelson: “We are a dog rescue that pays for the support adopters need. Rescues are no easy task, so we have to help the adopters. We provide socialization walks for life to every adoptee and their family. We pay for training when needed, and this could even be a board and train, which is thousands of dollars. We want the dogs and their families to succeed.”
Why did you choose this community to start Courageous Canines?
Nelson: “Katelyn grew up in Cochrane, while I (Nelson) primarily grew up in Calgary. We have watched this area grow and develop. We live here and know the city is in need of a rescue like us. We started the rescue in September and are ready to make a difference.”
What was it like starting a business during a global pandemic?
Nelson: “We just opened, but opening a non-profit during a pandemic is terrifying. We are trying to come up with ways to fundraise. Honestly, we are struggling with finances as we are a new rescue and need to grow our following and trust within the Calgary community.”
What makes your community special and how have they supported you?
Nelson: “We have some incredible supporters. Our families, friends, and other community members have supported us financially with moral support when we need it most. We have an amazing vet who is so supportive and takes on all our medical cases in stride.”
How do you see your business making adopting a dog more accessible for Calgarians?
Nelson: “We want to make a huge impact in Calgary allowing dog owners to re-shape their lives. There is no need to be frustrated with training, or getting a dog to eat or even paying for medical bills. We want to help the community by paying for those in need. We strive to create a program that can aid those with training, medical, and food bills.”
How would you describe the small-business community here in Calgary?
Nelson: “Calgary’s small-business community is very large. For rescue, it is a cut-throat atmosphere. We have found little support from other rescues and have even been completely shut down by some. We find the dog world is generally like this with training, vets and pet stores. We want to change this to a supportive community.”
Last, but not least, how do you define the word “community”?
Nelson: “A community helps one another. Community allows everyone to work together to achieve a similar goal while walking in an individual path.”
Your Community, your inbox.
An in-depth understanding of the stories that affect Calgary and beyond, every weekday.
By filling out the form above, you consent to receive emails from Calgary Citizen.