Friday, March 28, 2014

5 Spring Safety Tips for Your Dog

There’s warmer weather in the forecast! Are you looking forward to it as much as we are? With warmer weather, there are some safety tips you need to keep in mind so you and your dog can happily enjoy the spring.

Crack Your Car Windows
If you take your dog with you and need to leave her in the car, remember to crack the windows a few inches. Even if it’s only 40-50 degrees outside, the sun can raise the temperature in the car by several degrees and quickly make it uncomfortable, and even unsafe, for your dog.

Avoid Toxic Plants
Spring is a beautiful time of year, with all of the plants sprouting and flowers blooming. Some of those plants, though, may be poisonous to your dog. When you take your dog outside, watch what he puts in his mouth. If you’re raising an SSD dog, there’s a list of toxic plants near the back of the puppy manual. The ASPCA also has an extensive list of plants that are toxic to animals. 

Groom Your Dog
Grooming your dog not only makes them look good, but it helps prevent skin irritations, fleas, and ticks. A well groom coat also helps dogs regulate their temperature.

Attach ID Tags to Your Dog’s Collar
Whether you’re taking your dog for a walk or are just spending time in the backyard, make sure your dog is wearing their ID tags. When you spend more time outside, there are more chances for your dog to wander off or you may need to drop the leash for some reason. Even if you’re confident that your dog will stay by your side, it’s a good idea for your dog to wear ID tags to make it easier to recover them if they do get away.

Keep Spring Cleaning Supplies Out of Reach
If you’re doing some spring cleaning, be sure to keep your cleaning supplies out of your dog’s reach. The chemicals in many cleaners are poisonous for dogs

We hope you and your dog have a happy and safe spring! Enjoy the warmer weather! 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Big Results from a Small Conversation

Guest post by Kelly Hitz

In 2012, I was working for SSD and was staffing an informational table at a Harrisburg Senators game, where SSD Gideon was “throwing out” the first pitch of the game.  A lovely family stopped by our table with their daughter, who was in a wheelchair, and we quickly began talking about whether a service dog would be a good fit for her.  The more we talked, the more I knew a service dog would change this girl’s life.  Unfortunately, just a day before, we had announced that we would temporarily stop adding new client names to our waiting list because it was getting so long.  As I talked to her mother, one of the SSD dogs that had come with its handler to the game walked up and gently placed his head on her lap.  It was immediately clear that there was a connection, and the way she lit up was amazing.

Fast forward nearly two years, and I am no longer with SSD but still believe in its mission and volunteer when I can.  As I waited in line at the PawsAbilities snack bar this year, I noticed a girl in a wheelchair with a service dog walking closely beside her.  She was accompanied by her mom, dad, and grandparents, and I recognized them right away.  I couldn’t help myself and tapped the mom on the shoulder to ask if she remembered our conversation at the baseball game.  Not only did she remember the conversation, but was so excited to see me and remembered my name.  She profusely thanked me for all of the information and for introducing her to SSD.  Turns out, the right dog had found its way to her daughter.

I learned that her daughter takes the dog everywhere, even to her school, every day.  It’s made such a positive difference in her life.  Before getting their dog, the entire family even became involved with SSD by puppy hugging and dog-sitting so they could learn everything they could about service dogs and clicker training.

Seeing such a BIG result from such a SMALL conversation two years earlier was a great reminder of how much good SSD is doing.  When things work out for such a deserving family, you know there really is good in the world. 

Kelly Hitz is a former SSD employee who now volunteers on special projects. She currently works for the Commonwealth of PA and oversees the state's annual fundraising campaign. An avid animal lover, she lives with her husband, son, dog, two cats, and goldfish in the Harrisburg Area.

Friday, March 14, 2014

PawsAbilities Weekend Fun

We saw so many happy dogs over the weekend at PawsAbilities!

There was this sweet dog:

And this happy pup:

And this smiling dog: 

And these new friends:

And so many more!

If you took your dog’s photo at PawsAbilities, be sure to post it on Facebook or Twitter and tag it with #SSDPaws. We will continue to compile your photos into an album on our Facebook page so all of our fans can see your happy dogs.

We had so much fun this year! Dogs competed in the Dog Olympics:

Other dogs tried dock jumping with WestWind Air Dogs and WestWind Kennels:

Some dogs got all decked out for the Costume Contest:

This year, we welcomed veteran and bestselling author Luis Carlos Montalv├ín and his service dog Tuesday. Luis gave two wonderful presentations. We’ll have more about his presentations in a later blog post.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for PawsAbilities! We hope to see you next year!