I contacted Bergin University of Canine Studies in Santa Rosa and became a puppy parent to an adorable five-month-old golden retriever named Ellie. Though my primary intention was to expose Doug to dogs in a positive light, I didn't realize how hard I would fall for Ellie. The bond with her was instant and bone-deep. 

We had Ellie for a year, and I took her everywhere with me. I began to realize how much of a need there was for service dogs in Napa as people regularly approached me to ask how they could acquire one. I wanted to help as people of all types expressed their needs: veterans, handicapped children and adults, people suffering from chronic illness or cancer, even educators for their students learning to read. The need was real. I decided then that I would start my own program, combining my passion for dogs with my desire to help make the lives of people-in-need easier and happier. 

When I gave Ellie back to Bergin University, I cried for two weeks. After the mourning subsided, I started pursuing this insatiable ambition to start my own program in Napa. I attended Bergin University, and became a certified service dog trainer. 

My dream materialized when I bought two puppies from a graduate of Bergin in Arizona, and immediately started the journey to found what is now Canine Guardian Assistance Dogs. 

-Rochelle Heskett

Founder and Executive Director

Canine Guardians Assistance Dogs

our history

I was raised with dogs (mainly labs).  When I married Doug, he was not a "dog person." I don't blame him, his main exposure having been chased daily and sometimes even bitten by dogs on his paper route as a boy. 

But twelve years later, I began to experience a persistent yearning for the sweet company of a dog again. It became so strong that it was impossible to quell. So, we compromised by adopting a dog on a more temporary basis. This would  provide Doug with the opportunity to be around a dog...without being chased or getting bitten.