Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Safety

Hurricane Sandy is on its way. President Obama has declared an emergency in Pennsylvania, and people are being advised not to travel unless absolutely necessary. High winds, flooding, and power outages are expected. It’s time to hunker down to weather the storm.

As you’re preparing for the storm, make sure that you include your service dogs and pets in your preparations. It may be a good idea to have an emergency supply kit for your animals that includes:

  • Food and water for several days
  • Any meds your animal is taking
  • Vet records
  • Food/water dishes
  • Pet first aid kit
  • Blanket
  • Collar and leash
  • Treats
  • A favorite toy

Also, it’s a good idea to make sure that your dog is wearing his or her tags.

If you have one of our service dogs in training, make sure you have their service dog in training harness packed in case you have to go to an emergency shelter. It may also be helpful to have your letters identifying your dog as part of our program. Not all emergency shelters allow pets, but you should be able to take your service dog in training with you.

You can read more about preparing for a hurricane and/or other emergency in the PA Emergency Preparedness Guide.

You can also get updates on the Central PA area from Pennlive, including links to local Red Cross shelters. The American Red Cross is also a great resource.

Please stay safe!

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Superdogs of Black Tie and Tails

Saturday's Black Tie and Tails at the Holiday Inn Harrisburg-Hershey was an evening for superdogs! Superdogs and their human counterparts gathered for a fun evening of dinner and dancing. Between the reception with delicious appetizers, silent auction, dinner, live auction, and dancing to music by The Waves, it was a full night.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for Black Tie and Tails!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Top 10 Reasons to Raise an SSD Puppy

Diane, one of our veteran puppy raisers and puppy whelping team member extraordinaire, compiled the top 10 reasons to become a puppy raiser for Susquehanna Service Dogs. We hope you enjoy them and maybe even decide to raise a puppy for us. We have 28 puppies looking for puppy raisers. Would you like to raise one of them?

Top 10 Reasons to Raise an SSD Puppy

10. A puppy is better than an online dating service! When you take your cute puppy out in public, they’re magnets for meeting new people. Plus, people will already know at least one thing that you do for fun – raising an SSD puppy!

9. Raising an SSD puppy will give you an excuse to expand your wardrobe for both you and your dog. You can match your clothes to the color of your dog’s fur, making sure you and your dog always look well groomed. And of course, having an SSD dog opens up a whole world of stylish dog collars for every season and holiday.

8. Not looking forward to the cold weather? There’s no need to order a new snuggie. Your SSD pup will snuggle with you and keep you warm on cue.

7. You will be recognized as an experienced dog trainer, complete with a fashionable treat pouch, a drool towel, color-coordinated clicker, and maybe even a piece of duct tape stuck to your leg.

6. Unlike your spouse or children, SSD puppies will come when called. As an added bonus, they hang on every word you say, won’t ask questions, won’t talk back, and won’t say the wrong thing.
5. Who needs a personal trainer when you have a dog? SSD puppies will need lots of exercise. Sometimes they’ll even alert you when it’s time to walk, plus bring you their leash.

4. You will become a true treat connoisseur. Not only will you be able to find tasty and healthy treats for training, but you’ll find ones that won’t disintegrate in your pants pocket when accidentally thrown in the laundry.

3. SSD puppies will encourage you to learn all about dog behavior and body language. You might even start applying it to human behavior. You’ll think “Wow, that person must be under stress. He’s really yawning a lot.” Or “How rude. That person greeted me head-on.” You will become more aware of your relationship to everyone in your environment.

2. When you raise an SSD puppy, you automatically become part of a real-life social network, one where you will be liked and accepted by staff, other volunteers, partners, and many four-legged friends who greet you with enthusiasm and sometimes dive into your treat bag when you’re not paying attention.

1. Most importantly, you will be investing your time, talents, and love to change the life of a person with a disability. You will help them reach their dreams of living independently, becoming employed, and being accepted into their community. And while you’re changing someone else’s life, your life will be changed as well.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Canine First Aid Kits

Fall is here, and this cooler weather is perfect for being outside with your dog, whether you’re hiking in the woods, taking a long walk, or just hanging out in the yard. It’s fun to spend time outdoors (and indoors) with your dog, but the more active your dog is, the higher the likelihood that your dog may get hurt. Hidden rocks or wood splinters, poisons, animal bites – you never know what you’re going to encounter. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a canine first aid kit.

We have all of our puppy raisers create a canine first aid kit. These first aid kits have already come in handy. For example, one of the items we recommend keeping in the first aid kit are extra poop bags. Who hasn’t accidentally left home without a bag, or suddenly found themselves in need of more than one? With a good first aid kit, you’ll be ready for anything you and your dog may encounter.

Your canine first aid kit should include:

  • Rubber gloves
  • Cotton balls
  • Gauze
  • Vet wrap
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Eye wash
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Kwik Stop powder (to stop bleeding)
  • Leash
  • Poop bags
  • Benedryl (for allergic reactions)
  • Buffered aspirin (for pain, inflammation, fever)
  • Urine sample jar
  • Pepto-Bismol
  • Blanket (large enough to carry your dog like a stretcher)
  • Syringe
  • Tweezers
  • Emergency contact numbers (your vet, animal poison control center)

HealthyPet also has additional information about pet first aid, so that you know what to do if your dog is bleeding, stops breathing, goes into shock, and more. You can also looking into taking a pet first aid class. The Red Cross sometimes offers classes in pet first aid. PetTech also offers classes in pet first aid for pet owners.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Pasta Litter Is Here

Late last night (or very early this morning), we welcomed the Pasta litter into the world! SSD Julia gave birth to the first of five puppies at 12:36 a.m. The last puppy was born at 3:07 a.m.

SSD Julia is a first-time mother, but she seems to be taking to motherhood very well. The father is SSD Fire, a big, handsome, dark yellow lab.

Huge thank you to our whelping team for taking such good care of Julia and the puppies during the delivery!

And now, we need your help. The Pasta puppies need names! There are 3 males and 2 females. What do you think these puppies should be called? Leave your pasta-themed name suggestions in the comments. Thank you!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Partnerships for Better Service Dogs

Did you know that the father of SSD Opal’s Water puppies comes from the Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind? We partner with service and guide dog organizations in the United States and Canada to do breeding exchanges. Like Opal, our breeding females have traveled to other organizations to be bred to other stud dogs, and our studs have also crossed state lines. We also exchange puppies.

The breeding exchanges help to diversify our genetic lines. Our goal is to better the breed. However, we are not trying to meet the typical breed standards. Instead, we aim to better the breed for service dog standards.

Our service dogs in training must meet certain standards before we accept them into our program, and we evaluate the dogs at 8 weeks, 6 months and 12 months old, as well as when they come into the kennel for advanced training. We are looking for dogs that have a good temperament. They must be calm, be able to focus amid distractions, have self control, and easily adapt to different situations and environments. In addition, the dogs must have excellent health, including their hips and elbows. These dogs are working dogs and they must be able to perform their jobs. We would not want to place a dog with someone only to have that dog develop hip dysplasia two years later and need to be retired.

We have had the most success with service dogs that have come from our breeding program. That’s not to say that we haven’t had some amazing service dogs come from breeders who donated puppies from us. Many of these donated puppies have gone on to be excellent service dogs. A strong breeding program also helps to ensure that we don’t have a shortage of dogs. After all, our ultimate goal is to pair a service dog with a person so they can be more independent. We want to change lives.  

While our dogs are in our breeding program, we always try to find another job for them. For example, SSD Opal, SSD Kirby, SSD Scotia, SSD Julia, and SSD Meade, one of our stud dogs, are in training to become demonstration, interview, and therapy dogs, and SSD Midge already works as a demonstration, interview, and therapy dog. SSD Fire, our other stud dog, also works as a demonstration dog. These dogs are excellent ambassadors for us, visiting groups, organizations, and businesses to demonstrate what service dogs can do.

Additionally, when a dog is released from our breeding program, we always find a job for them. The job will always depend on the dog. They may become companion dogs for children with autism, in-home service dogs, and in some cases, they may become full service dogs. In fact, SSD Dixie and SSD Pearl, who both gave us several beautiful litters of puppies, are now happily working with their new partners.

If you would like to learn more about why we decided to breed rather than use rescue dogs, please read our post, Why Do We Breed Service Dogs.

We hope you are enjoying Opal’s Water puppies on the puppy cam, as well as Kirby’s Country Capitals puppies and Scotia’s Puppies from Down Under. We hope that you’ll continue to follow and support these dogs as they grow and learn to be service dogs.