Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Things I Learned

Guest post by Susan Tyson

I learned about Susquehanna Service Dogs and service dogs eleven years ago when I answered an ad in the Patriot News looking for puppy huggers. Several months later, SSD Trout was put into my arms as a puppy to raise.

At a seminar class the next month, I learned that the program was not let by a nebulous director but by Nancy Fierer. Then I learned that she ran the program as a full time director, but took no pay! And then I learned that the entire program was based at her home! Can you imagine a never-ending, seven-days-a-week parade of people and dogs through your home for twenty years?

Over the years, I learned that Nancy had goals and visions for the development of SSD and the service dog industry. She led, sometimes pushing and prodding, everyone toward those goals. The end result is that SSD has an international reputation for producing quality service dogs.

I learned to listen to Nancy as she discussed dog behavior, a training problem, or a people problem. I did not always agree with everything, but I did realize that she has thought long and hard about the problem, and I was always able to pull a nugget or a scrap of learning from each conversation.

I learned that Nancy has a heart of gold and truly wants to make the world a better place for others. SSD was her way of accomplishing this. The dogs are nice, but in the end, they are a tool to help someone. The real goal is to change someone’s life.

I learned that the goal of producing a service dog does more than change one life—it changes many. I am one of them, and I think that I am not alone. The dedication of so many—staff and volunteers—is a testament to Nancy’s work for SSD.

Fair winds and following seas as you and Robert travel into a new phase of your life. 

Susan Tyson has volunteered with Susquehanna Service Dogs for 11 years as a puppy raiser, part of the whelping team, and a litter raiser. She has helped with various fundraisers, given SSD demonstrations, and uses the dogs for therapy work with people in the psychiatric hospital and children with autism. She lives in apple tree country between Carlisle and Gettysburg with her husband Bill, many chickens, and a huge garden.

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