Thursday, July 28, 2016

Six Dogs Headed to the CIA

On Monday, six of our dogs left our program to go work with the CIA. We could not be prouder of Coach, Elsa, Harmony, Oasis, Olive, and Zeus! These dogs were hand-picked by the CIA because of their unique abilities, including their energy, focus, and love of work, and they will go on to do great things with their new handlers.

Too often, however, dogs in our program that don’t go on to become service dogs are seen as failures. We say that they are not! These dogs are just as successful as the dogs that become service dogs.

Service dog work is just one type of work available for our dogs. True, because we are a service dog organization, our goal is to raise and train dogs to become working service dogs. However, each dog has a unique personality and set of skills that make them best suited to certain types of work. Sometimes that work might be acting as a counter balance for someone. Sometimes it might be alerting to sounds. Sometimes it might be recognizing a person’s anxiety and taking action to calm the person down.

And sometimes that work might be recognizing different smells. When they’re done with their training with the CIA, Zeus, Coach, Elsa, Harmony, Olive, and Oasis will be able to sniff out 19,000 explosive scents! Their ability to recognize and alert to these scents will save people’s lives. Pretty incredible!

We like to think that each puppy is on a journey, and we never know exactly where their path will take them. They start their journey with their whelping family for the first eight weeks of their lives. Their next and longest step is with their puppy raiser, who welcomes the puppy into their home at eight weeks old. Our raisers are amazing! They spend the next 16-18 months training that puppy, teaching them good house manners and 26 different cues. And everyone wants each dog to become a service dog.

The reality, though, is that not every dog is going to become a service dog. Only 50-60% of our dogs become service dogs. But that doesn’t mean the other 40-50% failed or that their raisers didn’t go a good job. It just means that service dog work wasn’t right for that dog and their journey is taking them down a different path.

Some dogs, like Coach, Elsa, Harmony, Oasis, Olive, and Zeus, have personalities and skills that will make them awesome CIA dogs. Some dogs, like Heritage, excel with the police. Some dogs join the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and others join the UN. We hear wonderful things about our dogs that have taken a different path to become working dogs!

Sometimes a dog’s skills and personality make them best suited to life as a pet with a loving family. Does that mean the dog failed? Nope. It just means that they are doing what they were meant to do, and their puppy raisers gave them the best start possible.

We are proud of our dogs no matter what path they take, and we know that they will make a difference in people’s lives. We’re thankful to our puppy raisers who devote their time and hearts to our dogs!

Congratulations to Coach, Elsa, Harmony, Oasis, Olive, Zeus, their puppy raisers, and their new handlers in the CIA!

Monday, July 25, 2016

How the Girl Scout Puppies Got Their Names

Guest blog post by Girl Scout Troop 11967

Before you read the guest post, we have some sad news to share. One of Aunt Megan’s puppies, Junior, passed away. Our experienced whelping team was monitoring him closely, but unfortunately, he was unable to thrive. He’s buried in a special place at the home of one of our whelping volunteers. 

Auntie Megan gave birth to ten adorable puppies! She had seven boys and three girls. Unfortunately one of the boys, Junior, sadly died on July 18. So now there are only nine puppies. 

The male puppies are Scout, Tagalong (Tag), Troop, Archer, Samoa, and Gordon. The female names are Juliette, Savannah, and Summit. We named the puppies important names corresponding to some of our favorite Girl Scout names for dogs. 

We chose Scout as a name for the word "Girl Scout." Tagalong, or Tag for short, and Samoa were chosen from some popular Girl Scout Cookies, the Tagalong and Samoa. Troop was chosen from what we call our Girl Scout group. 

Archer was chosen because one of our favorite sports and badges is archery. The last of the males is Gordon. Gordon is the middle name of Juliette Gordon Low, who was the founder of Girl Scouts of the USA. SSD Juliette was also named after her. 

Savannah was named after the Girl Scout Cookie, the Savannah Smiles. Savannah, Georgia was also the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low. Lastly, Summit was named after the pin you receive after you complete all three journeys. We are looking forward to getting to know the puppies and helping Auntie Megan take care of them.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Girl Scout Troop 11967 Prepares for the Puppies

Guest post by Girl Scout Troop 11967. The Girl Scouts are whelping SSD Aunt Megan's puppies, known as the Girl Scout Litter.

SSD Aunt Megan and her ten Girl Scout puppies

Aunt Megan's puppies were born yesterday!

We cleaned the whelping box and its surrounding area. It was quick and easy with four of us working. We took off our shoes, signed the log book, and started working!

First, we took out the towels that were in the whelping box and washed them. Then we wiped down the box completely with Clorox wipes. We also wiped the legs of all the chairs nearby, and then we put clean, fresh towels in the whelping box.

Once that was done, we mopped and vacuumed the area, including the carpets so Pizzelle's fur wasn't everywhere. [The Troop leader is raising SSD Pizzelle over the summer until she moves to Dickinson Dog House at Dickinson College to finish her training.] Next, we thoroughly mopped the area where the puppies and Aunt Megan would be. It's important that other odors aren't around the area.

We had some free time after we finished cleaning, so we read the Whelper's Manual from Susquehanna Service Dogs. [We provide all our whelping volunteers with a manual full of everything they need to know about caring for the mother and puppies. We also have a team on standby to answer any questions or concerns the volunteers might have.]

Soon after, we went outside and tried training Pizzelle, but she was too distracted.

In addition, the Girl Scout Litter was born yesterday! We can't wait to start training and raising a group of pups that will help people and the community in a big way!

SSD Aunt Megan gave birth to 10 puppies on July 12, 2016. She has seven males and three females, all yellow. We'll announce the names soon!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Girl Scout Troop 11967 Visits SSD Aunt Megan

Guest blog post by Girl Scout Troop 11967. The Girl Scouts will be whelping SSD Aunt Megan's upcoming litter of puppies. Her puppies will be known as the Girl Scout Litter.

Girl Scout Troop 11967 visits SSD Aunt Megan

In our most recent Girl Scout meeting, we learned that if we are going to be using the internet and social media to write about the Girl Scout Litter, we need to be careful and safe while using it. Also, we went to visit SSD Aunt Megan! She is so close to giving birth and we are so excited!

While we were at Aunt Megan's puppy raiser's house, we learned about the birth process of dogs and what Susquehanna Service Dogs does to prepare for the birth. We saw where the puppies will be born, and we saw their little collars!

Tiny puppy collars for newborn puppies

Aunt Megan's raiser also told us what she would do if the puppies have trouble breathing or are not breathing at all when they are born.

SSD Aunt Megan checks out the whelping box, which is where her puppies will live for the first few weeks of their lives.

We even got to feel the puppies in Aunt Megan's stomach! We gained so much new information at this meeting and we look forward to whelping the Girl Scout Litter!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Introducing the Upcoming Girl Scout Litter!

Guest blog post by Girl Scout Troop 11967

Troop 11967 will be whelping Aunt Megan's puppies and blogging about their experiences. Look for regular posts about Aunt Megan and her pups!

Hi! We are Girl Scout Troop 11967 and there are currently 9 girls in our Cadette troop. This summer, we are whelping a litter of puppies for SSD. We're whelping the puppies to earn our Silver Award, which is the second highest award a Girl Scout can receive. Every girl in our troop loves animals, so this is the perfect thing to do this summer for the award. It's a requirement to volunteer 50 hours of service, which will be very easy to get when all these cute puppies are born. 

Aunt Megan on her way to Palmyra Animal Clinic for her x-ray to see how many puppies she's expecting

The mother dog that we will take care of is SSD Aunt Megan, a yellow lab from the Aunts and Uncles Litter. She was bred with SSD Fiji, who is also yellow and is from the Islands Litter. Aunt Megan just had her x-ray, and she is having 9 or 10 puppies. The vet confirmed that she is having 9, but couldn't tell if there was a tenth one. 

Her due date is July 13, but we will not be able to start taking care of them for a few days, since Aunt Megan will be a first time mom. [All of SSD's puppies are born at our SSD complex, and they stay there for several days so our whelping team can monitor the mother and newborns.] 

Then our leader will pick up the puppies and the fun will begin! We cannot wait for the puppies and believe it will be a very fun experience. 

Make sure to check back for more of our blog entries and follow our litter, the Girl Scout Litter!