Tuesday, October 29, 2013

SSD Welcomes SSD ABC Lexington from the North American Breeding Cooperative

Meet SSD Lexington! Lexi is from KSDS, Inc. Assistance Dogs in Kansas. Our wonderful volunteer Robin drove down to Kansas to pick her up. Thank you, Robin!

Lexi is a black female Labrador Retriever, and her story is a little bit different than the other puppies we’ve received from other service dog organizations. Her story is different because she’s part of the new Assistance Dogs International North America Breeding Cooperative (ABC).

We’re very excited to be part of ABC. It’s a dream come true! ABC will allow us and the other member organizations to improve the quality of our service dogs, strengthen and diversify the genetic lines, and create a reliable supply of puppies that are suitable for assistance dog work.

ABC is a vision of Bob and Marina Phillips, and the Assistance Dogs International North America Region Board recently approved it. (You may remember that back in February, we invited breeding consultant Marina Hall Phillips to evaluate our program so we can make improvements.) Smaller ADI members are going to really benefit from this co-op arrangement. It means that we’ll always have puppies. This is important because despite the many litters we’ve had recently, there have been times when we have had very few puppies in our program—which mean that we were placing fewer service dogs at that time. A steady supply of puppies means that we won’t need to worry about whether we’ll have enough service dogs to meet people’s needs.

So what is ABC exactly? It’s a cooperative breeding program based on the concept of group breeding. Members assign their best broods and studs to the co-op. A certain number of the puppies will stay with the organization that whelps the litter, and the other puppies will be distributed to the other members of the co-op. This group breeding method vastly improves the dogs’ genetics, which ultimately means that our service dogs will be of even higher quality.

As you know, we just received SSD Lexi through ABC. We have also entered SSD Opal into ABC for her next litter, which is due at the end of October. She’s expecting 3-5 puppies. Approximately 50% of her litter will stay with us and the rest will be distributed to ABC members. SSD Meade is the stud we have chosen to enter the program.

We are a Host Member of ABC, which means that we will be hosting one or more breeding dogs that have been assigned to ABC. Right now, we are hosting Abby from Pacific Assistance Dogs Society. Abby was bred to PADS Buffet (who is also the father of our own Ice Cream Litter), and she will give birth at the home of one of our breeder caretakers. Some of her puppies will then stay with us. Abby recently flew from to Pennsylvania with our training coordinator, Amanda, and our puppy coordinator, Becky. She was an amazing traveler! She fit under Becky’s seat on both planes and mastered trains, shuttles, buses, vans, and lots of walking. After her puppies are eight weeks old, she will return home to PADS and her caretaker, who already misses her. 

We’re very excited about the breeding cooperative and how it will improve the quality of service dogs in our program!

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