Friday, February 7, 2014

The Story of the "A" Litter Puppies

Guest post by Susan Tyson, SSD volunteer

We all know it takes a village to raise a child, but in the past few months SSD has elevated that sentiment. PADS Abby and her ‘A’ litter demonstrate that perhaps it’s more like a small town or city to birth and raise seven service dog pups.

It all started with the new Assistance Dogs International (ADI) program, known as the North America Breeding Cooperative (ABC) program, where assistance dog programs share their breeding stock to help everyone diversify their genetic pool and the type of dog each program needs. Nancy Fierer was on the original committee that worked hard to figure out the many angles of the program. Included in this is Marina Phillips, in California, of the Phillips Next Generation consulting firm. She knew that Pacific Assistance Dog Society (PADS) in Vancouver, Canada (see, it has gone international!), had a lovely breeding dog named PADS Abby. She has had two litters and is housed by Cory Patterson when not on maternity leave. She came to SSD to whelp, via US Airways and Amanda and Becky [SSD’s Training Coordinator and Puppy Coordinator] in October.   Abby went to stay with Crystal Garman and her daughter Alicia and there whelped her pups at her home in early November with the aid of the SSD whelping team of Diane Bohenick, and the SSD staff of Amanda, Becky and Ryan.

Then when the puppies were two weeks old, Abby and her seven pups moved homes to Bill & Susan Tyson where they spent the next eight weeks.  They were hugged and handled by many folks interested in helping them on their road to being service dogs. One hundred people of all ages from 18 months to 85 years hugged the puppies!  They came from the Philadelphia area, Washington DC, Spain, California, and all of central PA. Thanks to Peter and Betsy Smith for all the newspapers all flattened and rolled up; Sandy Smith for the delicious dog treats; Jane Seymour for the many paper towels; Mary Duval and Ciara for all the doggie massages and clean-ups; and  the gang that handled the pups at their first vet visit at the Palmyra Animal Clinic: Jane Jackson, Ciara Capilletti, Steve Doyle, Kate O’Farrell, and Sharon Kemble.

A few days before Christmas, three of the pups became lethargic and sick, necessitating a quick trip to the closest emergency animal clinic (remember just like kids, puppies don’t get sick Monday through Friday during regular working hours!) The staff at Willow Mill Veterinary Hospital gave superb care to the three pups, who, being babies, made a quick recovery in a couple of days.

Thanks to Dr. Nancy Dreschel of the Animal Science Department at Penn State; Katie Grube, a junior, spent a week at the Tyson home helping with the litter, which was especially wonderful since the pups all developed an intestinal bug and there were days with some late nights of worrying. A recent Penn State Animal Science graduate, Lauren Applegate, also came and spent the day caring for the pups that did not go to the vet. When the pups were all feeling well again, Katie and Lauren helped with early clicker training and a trip in public to Wal-Mart and Wendy’s.

All the SSD pups made a visit to the veterinary ophthalmologist at the Veterinary Referral Center in Malvern PA when they were seven weeks old where they examined by Dr. Brady Beal and her staff. The day long trip needed helpers—imagine taking seven pups, plus SSD Olympia, to the vet! Assisting Becky were Nelda Wachtman, Carol Nesbitt, and Susan Tyson.

The ‘A’ litter pups are now in puppy raiser homes. One pup is being raised by Service Dogs of Virginia. Thanks to Carol Nesbitt for transporting the puppy. Two puppies are being raised in Massachusetts by a program called NEADS.

One more item of business before the story ends: the mother, PADS Abby, will be transported back to Vancouver, Canada via the generosity of a US Airways employee, through US Airway’s program called Puppies in Flight.


  1. So cute Puppies, i love all of these. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. All I can say is they are all adorable. Seeing them grow into good puppies will ease your stress because dog have a unique aura that will make his owner at ease. Then can actually make you feel good when you are in a bad mood. I also have a shih tzu and like you I also raised her and now I'm happy to be with her. :)

    Thanks for this post of yours.

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