|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.