Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Investing in the Future

Over the years, we have grown tremendously. What started in 1993 with a small group of volunteers has grown to a large network of staff and volunteers working together to raise and train service dogs for people with disabilities. Now we are looking toward the future and developing a plan to continue growing and improving our program so we can change even more lives with the assistance of our dogs.

As many of you know, we have a breeding program here at SSD (please see our post Why Do We Breed Service Dogs? for our reasoning behind this choice). Recently, we hired breeding consultant Marina Hall Phillips to help us evaluate our breeding program and examine other areas of our entire program so we can make sure we’re doing the best we can to provide successful service dogs for men, women, and children with disabilities. Marina has worked with Canine Companions for Independence and Guide Dogs for the Blind, and she has many years of experience with service dog breeding programs. We have every confidence that she’ll help us make successful changes!

Last night, a group of our volunteers met with Marina to discuss their volunteer experiences with SSD and the breeding program, as well as our program’s overall strengths and weaknesses. In true SSD fashion, we followed this discussion with a potluck dinner. While our volunteers were talking with Marina, our staff made sure all the food was cooked or heated.

From the honest discussion our volunteers had with Marina, we hope to improve not only our breeding program, but our entire program.

We have a small staff, so we rely on our volunteers to do a lot. When we tell our volunteers that we couldn’t do it without them, we truly mean it! Our volunteers raise puppies, help us train our advanced training dogs in public, whelp litters, care for our breeding dogs, puppy sit, do therapy visits with children with autism, give demonstrations, do home visits for potential partners and puppy raisers, help with Meet the Dogs and Team Training—the list goes on and on.

As we develop our plan for the future, we imagine that many of the improvements will result in an improved volunteer experience. All improvements mean that we will be able to provide higher quality service dogs that are well-suited to working with their partners. And that means that means that more lives will be changed.

If you’re interested in joining Susquehanna Service Dogs as a volunteer, please apply online. We would love to have you join us!

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