SSD Meade has been in advanced training for a little while, and now he’s about to take on a new job. Meade has become our newest breeding dog. He joins our five other breeding dogs: SSD Fire, SSD Kirby, SSD Midge, SSD Opal, and SSD Scotia.
We breed dogs to become service dogs because all of our dogs must have a certain temperament and pass specific health exams in order to be placed with a partner as a working service dog. Please read “Why We BreedService Dogs” for more details about our decision to breed dogs for service work.
The decision for a dog to become a breeding dog is not taken lightly. We look at the entire history of the dog, starting with their 8-week temperament test. We look at the dog’s behavior in puppy class, their 12-month evaluation, and their time in advanced training. The dog must have excellent bone structure and eye health. We also do genetic testing on all of our breeding dogs to make sure they aren’t carriers of certain diseases that could shorten the working life of a service dog or even prevent them from becoming a service dog. Our goal is to make sure that each service dog we place is able to meet their partner’s needs for many years.
Meade was selected as a stud because we think he will pass some nice traits to his puppies. Although Meade is not a perfect dog, he has some traits that are important for service dog work and our program. He is a big dog, and we’re hoping he will produce some big puppies. The size of a service dog doesn’t matter for many tasks, but there is one task where size is extremely important: balance work. The size of the dog does matter when he is acting as a counterbalance to assist someone to walk.
Meade also displays no harness sensitivity, so he has no problem wearing his service dog harness. Although it’s not required by the ADA, the service dog harness clearly identifies a dog as a service dog. Also, a dog with harness sensitivity is limited in the jobs he can do. For example, a dog with harness sensitivity could not become a balance dog because he would not be able to tolerate the special harness that balance dogs must wear to assist their partners.
Another trait that we like is Meade’s ability to get along with other dogs. In their line of work, service dogs will inevitably come in contact with other dogs, and they must be able to interact well and still remain focused on their partner. Meade has done very well with strange dogs since he was a puppy. For example, when he was 8 weeks old, he and his littermates were given a temperament test to see if service dog work would be a good match for them. As part of that test, the puppies were introduced to a strange dog. When it was Meade’s turn, he interacted very nicely with the other dog. He acted like a playful puppy, but he also paid attention to the other dog’s signals, and when the dog signaled that he wasn’t happy with something Meade was doing, Meade respected that.
Other traits we look for in our breeding dogs are confidence and empathy. Confident dogs will be able to handle the stress of being a service dog. They will be able to relax and easily adapt to different situations. If a dog tends to get worried, they may become stressed when their partner gets upset or has a rough day, and then they will not be able to assist their partner. Empathetic dogs do very well with children with autism and people with psychiatric disabilities. These dogs often seem to know what their partner needs before their partner even knows.
Meade is the son of SSD Sweet William, our founding stud. We are excited to see what kind of puppies he has.