Goehring began by training his personal dog as an assistance dog for Deanne Brothers of Fargo, North Dakota. Deanne and Zak, the first service dog team from GPADF, graduated in May 1990. The press coverage that followed helped to create a great demand for our services and it was apparent that a training and placement center was needed.
The first building to be constructed would be a 4000 sq. ft. training/kennel building. A capital campaign began in 1990 to raise the $146,000 projected budget. With half of the money raised, ground breaking was held in the early spring of 1991. By October 1991, the project was complete.
Given a successful capital campaign Great Plains purchased a used mobile home to be used as staff housing. An additional need became apparent as we prepared to host our first out-of-state assistant dog recipient. Construction on the student's apartment began following completion of the training building. Construction was completed in November 1991, just days prior to the arrival of our first student, one of many that would live in the student apartment
In late 1994 discussion began on growth plans for the future. Great Plains had two separate "growing" needs, both of equal importance. Additional kennel space would be needed to house an increasing number of dogs in training and an increase in staff would also be needed to increase our capabilities. Thus the second capital campaign began as well as the development of our apprenticeship program.
By early 1996 funding was in place for the "Lion's Wing Addition." With an agreed upon three-way split of the $132,000 projected costs, it looked like the Lions Wing would become a reality. Rural Economic Community Development, Lions Club International Foundation, and individual donors including the Edgeley Lions Club and many other individual Lions Clubs shared the financial burden. In 1998 construction was completed on the 3,200 sq. ft. addition.
In 1998 the Edgeley Chapter of the Jaycees donated the chain link fencing materials to construct a 4,000 sq. ft. exercise yard, an asset far greater
T.J. originally trained as an assistance dog for Harry, realized a second career as a hearing dog for Harry's wife Ursula. T.J. remains working for the couple today as they travel the U.S.
Since 1998 there has been no additional construction. Through the summers of 1999 and 2000 there has been a great deal of effort put into grounds development. At the present time, the Great Plains Foundation training campus consists of a 7,200 sq. ft. training and canine housing facility, a mobile home for apprentices and staff, two student apartments, a 3,200 sq. ft. exercise yard and 2000 sq. ft. of exterior kennels and communal runs. These facilities sit upon ten acres of land, which is located on the south edge of Jud, North Dakota.
Although physically located in Jud, Great Plains Assistance Dogs Foundation has a strong connection to Edgeley. Support has come in many forms from Edgeley. Organizations such as The Edgeley Lions Club and the Edgeley Jaycees have been strong supporters for many years. Businesses such as Dakota Plains Credit Union and Wieland Insurance stepped in to help when and where they could. The Edgeley Economic Development Corporation and the City of Edgeley also came to our assistance along with many Edgeley area residents. This project would not be, without the generous support that has come from Edgeley, its residents and its businesses.