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.

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