Augustana Viking Pups

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About a year ago, I met the most amazing group of college students.  Along with the other things that go along with college life such as classes, studying, work and an occasional night out; these kids were taking on a responsibility that very college students are willing to do.

Throughout the year, I’ve posted portraits of the dogs and mentioned the Viking Pups; but I think it’s time to formally introduce you to this great group of kids.

DSC_5192The Augustana Viking Pups is a service organization that raises and trains service and therapy  dogs in partnership with the Quad Cities Canine Assistance Network.   Entering the program as puppies, these wonderful creatures begin their training with basic skills.  Eventually they  move on to more advanced training in preparation to be placed with a client.  The dogs attend classes with the students and can be seen all over the community as they continue their training.

Since I began working with the club, I’ve observed successful placement with three clients.  Two of the dogs are in schools, while the other is placed with a beautiful young lady and attends high school with her every day. I’ll introduce you to Juls and Bobo in a future blog.

Currently, the group is working with Zorn and Emmy who will both be mobility service dogs. In just a few weeks, more puppies will be added to the program.  I’m looking forward to meeting the new puppies and getting them in the studio.

DSC_5177I was Facebooking with Mary Kiolbasa one day and she was truly speaking from the heart when she said, “There’s no real way to pick one greatest pleasure (in working and training with the dogs). From the love of working with the dogs, to helping our clients, to meeting some of my best friends, the entire experience is better than I ever could have imagined and a dream come true.”

Guiding the Viking Pups with their training is Hillary Plog from QCCAN.  She is an amazing woman and I’m thrilled and honored to know her. Her dedication to the Viking Pups is evident as she said to me, “calling back Mary Kiolbasa after receiving her phone message 2 years ago was one of the best decisions I have ever made! The Viking Pups are not only some of the best and most authentic people I know, they are also some of the most talented dog trainers I have ever met! They are integral and uniquely important to the success and to the existence of Quad Cities Canine Assistance Network…and I am proud to call them my students, my colleagues, and most importantly: my friends.”

1263019_211134305723192_35388574_oFinally, the other person who helps make this organization a success is Christina Clark, owner and operator of Iron Hill Retrievers.  Based in Maqukota, she donates many of the puppies to the Viking Pups.  I never met a more kindhearted and generous person.

By the way, the Viking Pups are in the process of putting together a 2014 calendar which includes many of the images I’ve taken.  I’ll post ordering information soon; but what a great way to pick up a gift and support and awesome organization.

For more information, check out the links below:

Viking Pups:

Quad Cities Canine Assistance Network:

Iron Hill Retrievers:  or

More Photos of the Augustana Viking Pups:

As always, I invite you to check out more images of beloved four legged friends at:




About lisafrancescon

Lisa is a portrait artist who uses photography as part of a process to capture the personality of animals and the special relationship they have with their owners. Based out of Moline Illnois, she travels throughout the Midwest providing timeless images of family pets. Her fine art portraits can be viewed at various pet businesses throughout the Iowa/Illinois Quad Cities. Lisa holds a Master’s Degree in Education from Western Illinois University and taught in the public schools for many years. She continues to teach photography classes in her studio covering a wide range of topics. Her class sizes are small so she can offer her students a hands-on experience and individual attention. Lisa is a Certified Professional Photographer and has been awarded the Master of Photography and Photographic Craftsman degrees through the Professional Photographers of America. She is a member of the American Society of Photographers, one of the most prestigious photographic associations in the world and an association that must be invited into through photographic achievement. Among her many awards and accolades, Lisa has been recognized as one of the top 10 photographers in Illinois in both 2015 and 2016 from the Associated Professional Photographers of Illinois.
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