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Press Release Piki Goes To College

A fun and tender story of a lovable shelter dog named Piki on her training journey to becoming a Service Dog will warm hearts.

Young readers will experience the joy of a dog finding a new life doing something important as well as the silly mischief she gets into in this delightful illustrated tale.

PLACITAS, New Mexico, April 27, 2021

Have you ever wondered what kind of training a dog receives to become a Service Dog? In Piki Goes to College, Author Joan M. Hellquist pairs this endearing picture book with beautiful painterly illustrations and information about Service Dogs and the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Before Piki had her name, she was lonely and homeless, living in an animal shelter. She thought the shelter was jail because she was kept in a kennel. Piki was scared there—until she met Joan. Joan spoke to Piki quietly, down at her level. Joan was nice to Piki; she even let Piki lick her fingers. Piki liked her and Joan liked Piki.


“Joan arrived and gave me my own new collar that had a tag with my name on one side and my address and phone number on the other side. Then she took me to my new forever home. I was happy to get out of jail and go home with Joan.”


 Not long after, Joan and Piki met Rick and Heather and they learned how dogs should behave when they are around other dogs and people. They taught Piki how to listen to her person, to come when called, and how to be composed when on a leash. Piki was attending school, or maybe college, since that was mentioned one day when Piki and Joan were in a store. And Joan was learning how to be an instructor to train her to be a very special dog: a Service Dog.


“To have a Service Dog, the person, who may be a child all the way up to a very old person, must have some kind of disability. The disability can be from an illness or disorder like epilepsy, arthritis, or diabetes. Or they might have had an injury or other problems that made their body not work very well…A Service Dog can also help with disabilities you can’t see, like autism, traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder. A Service Dog with additional very specialized training can assist the blind.”


In Piki’s journey to earning her vest—the special garment that all Service Dogs wear to indicate their important job—she has plenty of silly antics and mischievous adventures along the way.


Young readers will learn not only through Piki’s story but also with the informative back matter of the book including terms, sources for adults and educators, and organizations supporting Service Dogs.


Families will delight in reading this entertaining and informative tale, masterfully written by Joan M. Hellquist, herself a Service Dog Instructor and Trainer. This heartfelt story of a dog’s journey from a shelter to a home, aiding people with diabetes or arthritis, autism or traumatic brain injury, balance problems or hearing loss, among others, will shine a light on the importance of these gentle and smart dogs. Piki Goes to College, the first title in a picture book series about Piki’s training and adventures, is available now wherever books are sold.