Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Girl Scout Puppies: 10 Weeks Later

Guest post by Dana Little, Leader of Girl Scout Troop 11967, which whelped our Girl Scout Puppies

SSD Summit and SSD Scout at their first puppy class

It's hard to believe the Girl Scout Puppies turn 10 weeks old this week. While they have been placed in their newest roles with their puppy raisers and the girls are finishing up their project paperwork, I decided it's my turn to write the last Girl Scout Litter blog entry.

My eclectic troop of 8th graders are at the Cadette level, at which point they can opt to work toward the Silver Award, the second highest earned award in Girl Scouting. To earn this award, each girl must identify a problem in the community, come up with a plan on how to solve it, and the work a minimum of 50 service hours toward fixing that problem. The idea is that through this and the next level in Girl Scouting (the Gold Award), the girls can and will change the world.

When these girls were in 4th grade, we were working on the Bronze Award (precursor to the Silver), and we were introduced to Susquehanna Service Dogs through puppy hugging. The girls absolutely loved this project and we quickly realized the group had a common love for animals.

In late spring, one of the girls came to me and asked what I thought of whelping a litter of SSD puppies as a troop Silver Award project. Whelping a litter consists of taking care of the puppies and their mother from the time they're one day old until they're eight weeks old. In addition, the Silver Award project requires that the project be sustainable and that it have an awareness aspect to it. I had to admit, as overwhelming as it seemed, if it could be done it would be an amazing accomplishment.

Fast forward to September and we have successfully launched into service SSD Scout, SSD Tagalong, SSD Troop, SSD Archer, SSD Samoa, SSD Gordon, SSD Juliette, SSD Savannah, and SSD Summit. (Yes, the girls chose the names. Yes, they are based on the Girl Scout theme, and no, they are not all cookies.) Through this project, the girls have logged over 1,238 service hours; collected 795 items; created 4 billboards, one iMovie, numerous blog posts and social media entries; and even managed to get our little life changers blessed at church. We have one girl raising one of the puppies and three girls who are now SSD-approved sitters. Wow.

Girls, job well done. You have demonstrated a tremendous amount of commitment, responsibility, leadership, creativity, initiative, attention to detail, time management, passion, patience, friendship, love, caring, kindness, thoughtfulness, trust, tirelessness, and perseverance--all with a positive attitude. You have learned many important lessons, including those of life, death, and finishing what you start.

Thank you, SSD staff and volunteers, for believing in and supporting these girls. You took a chance on them, and in so doing, provided them with this amazing opportunity to make a difference. It's an experience they (and I) will remember forever.

If you are thinking about getting involved with Susquehanna Service Dogs, do it. There are numerous opportunities available, including adopting discharged pups like our SSD Samoa who has an eye issue. Not to worry, he will be placed in a caring home and will make a fantastic pet.

To find out more about SSD's work and to continue to follow the journeys of the Girl Scout Puppies, visit Susquehanna Service Dogs' Facebook Page or follow @SSDOGS on Twitter.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Kissing Puppies at Kipona

Guest post by Girl Scout Troop 11967

Greetings from Girl Scout Troop 11967! Last weekend our troop did so many exciting and amazing things! On Saturday, September 3, we went to Kipona in Harrisburg, PA. there we had an SSD kissing booth, which turned out to be a huge hit. Many people came to see the puppies, including the 7-week-old Summer Olympians Litter. We all had so much fun sharing the puppies with the public and spreading awareness about SSD's puppy raiser program.

Later that evening, we had a blessing for the puppies. We took all nine Girl Scout puppies to Grace Lutheran Church in Camp Hill, PA, and each puppy was acknowledged and blessed in the ceremony.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Water Pups: Girl Scout Puppies

Guest post by Girl Scout Troop 11967

The puppies just received their shots, and they are now allowed to go outside and play in the grass. The weather has been very nice lately, so our troop has been taking the dogs outside to play around. We also bring out a little kiddie pool for the puppies to splash around in.

The puppies enjoy exploring under the deck where they are covered with shade, and they play with sticks and inner tubes. They also like lying near the house to get shade and water from the hose.

Between the dirt under the deck and the water in the pool, the dogs often get very dirty. After we wash each dog and dry them, we take them inside to rest.

Going outside is a whole new adventure for the puppies and one they all seem to enjoy, although it is often difficult to control nine puppies playing outside for the first time! It is a great experience for us and them.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Girl Scout Puppies Eat Real Food

Guest post by Girl Scout Troop 11967

The puppies are growing so quickly! Their small, pointy teeth have started coming in, so we started feeding them gruel. Gruel is dog food soaked in hot water and then mashed up.The puppies get so excited that they walk all through the food bowl.

Also, they play with each other, wrestling and jumping around. Some, like SSD Scout, even play-growl.

We have to put mini vests on the puppies  so they can start learning what they feel like. Another thing we do is hand brightly colored objects from the side of the pen. Their eyes and ears are now fully open, so we have to get them used to bright colors and loud sounds.

Friday, August 12, 2016

The Girl Scout Puppies Explore the Outdoors

Guest blog post by Girl Scout Troop 11967

In most recent days, the puppies have been moved outside to get used to their new surroundings on the patio. In our preparations, we swept the patio to get rid of all the leaves and weeds. Then we had to bleach and scrub the patio with brushes.

After the patio cleansing, we set up the pen with a tent overhead for shade and brought out half the puppies. Although they cried and whined, the puppies adjusted to their new surroundings smoothly.

The next day, we bathed and dried each little puppy, only to have them all fall asleep. They're all adjusting to the new surfaces quickly and feeding well.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Girl Scout Puppies On the Move!

Guest blog post by Girl Scout Troop 11967

SSD Juliette wears her little harness while she practices going up stairs.
The last two mornings with the puppies went very smoothly, and they are doing great. They started to wear their harnesses, and they look adorable in them. the puppies are even learning to climb up and down small stairs, and some of them, like Juliette and Tagalong, did it with almost no help at all!

We had to wash the puppies, weigh them, and clean the whelping box, too. SSD Aunt Megan is also doing extremely well and is a very good mom. 

Keep watching the puppy cam for the rest of the many weeks we are whelping them to see how they are doing.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Girl Scout Puppies: Early Neurological Stimulation

Guest post by Girl Scout Troop 11967. Troop 11967 is caring for SSD Aunt Megan and her nine puppies, who will be trained as service dogs.

Yesterday was my first time meeting and working with the SSD puppies and their mom, SSD Aunt Megan. When I first got there, I met Megan and bonded with her before I met the puppies, so Megan would trust me.

Shortly after, I got to meet the nine puppies and rub and scratch their stomachs and ears. Next is when the real work started. We first started by doing ENS (Early Neurological Stimulation)* by holding the puppies toward us, holding them with their back toward the ground, holding them upside down, and placing them on a cold, wet washcloth. Then we picked them up and tickled their toes with a Q-tip. this process is to stimulate the puppies using different sensations.

Then we put all the puppies into a separate bin and we cleaned the whelping by by removing the dirty towels, wiping down the sides and bottom of the box, and putting in fresh towels and toys. After putting the puppies back into the box, I went upstairs to feed mama Megan.

Once we returned downstairs, we cleaned the puppy toys using water and bleach. Finally to finish, we mopped the floor.

Although all of these tasks are repeated several times a day, I was only there for a small amount of time, and I only got to do each step once. Even though it was hard work, I enjoyed working with the puppies very much.

*Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) helps to create dogs who are better equipped to handle stress, which is extremely important for service dogs, who will be going everywhere with their partner.