Guest blog post by Shari Brenizer and Ellen Gladfelter, volunteer puppy raisers for Susquehanna Service Dogs
Three years ago, we decided to sign up to be puppy raisers because we said goodbye to our two family dogs within a year of each other. We never wanted to have to do that again but knew our family was missing a dog.
Susquehanna Service Dogs fills the needs of many individuals with disabilities. We have watched individuals with visible disabilities become more independent by having a dog who has helped them navigate their daily routines and to live more independently. We have watched individuals with invisible disabilities have more confidence, companionship, and reassurance in their daily lives.
We have had the opportunity in the last three years to raise four dogs, all at different stages in their journey. SSD Ali, Orlando, Annabelle, and Thornwald all filled a need in our lives that make us better puppy raisers and supporters of SSD.
SSD Ali is a breeder for SSD and continues to add puppies that will grow to be the next generation of service dogs! Ali is the proud momma of two litters, the Carlisle Litter and the Cheese Litter, who are growing up and will one day fill the needs of individuals with disabilities.
Orlando and Thornwald have chosen different paths other than being service dogs--and they have both filled the needs of families who wanted loyal and loving family pets.
Annabelle has also chosen a different path, but she has filled our need to love and want our very own pet again. She joined our forever family in October.
Susquehanna Service Dogs is about filling needs for all people, and we are truly blessed to be a part of this great organization.
Join Shari, Ellen, and Susquehanna Service Dogs for the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community! SSD is one of 47 organizations participating in the Highmark Walk, and 100% of the money you raise comes directly to SSD!
When Saturday, May 21 On-site registration begins at 7:45 a.m. 5K Walk begins at 9 a.m. One-Mile Fun Walk begins at 9:15 a.m.
Guest post by Maddie Levy. Maddie and her family have been volunteer puppy raisers and sitters for the past four years.
For four years, my family and I have opened our home to Susquehanna Service Dogs' puppies in training. During that time, we have raised, trained, and puppy sat future service dogs. Currently, we are raising SSD Truffle, whose mother, SSD Splash, we co-raised with another volunteer.
While raising Splash, our goal was obviously for her to become a working service dog. However, SSD had plans for her as a breeder, and she recently had her first litter, the Sweet Treats. Bringing Splash through the program and seeing her have her litter has brought us nothing but joy and love. The moment we took her in, we were impacted by her gentle and affectionate personality.
Splash's effect on the people around her is well illustrated by her actions at a doctor's appointment we had brought her to about a year ago. As we were checking out, Splash was sitting next to me. I felt a tug on the leash. When I looked behind me, I saw a baby, maybe a year old, hugging Splash, who was leaning into her, resting her head on the girl's shoulder.
The reason I walk for SSD is because I love to watch my dogs make people smile. Seeing the puppies make a difference in my life, my family's life, and even brightening the days of everyone they meet confirms their impact on their future partners, who in a time of need receive the companionship and aid of truly amazing and talented dogs.
Join Maddie and Susquehanna Service Dogs for the Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community. SSD is one of 47 organizations participating in the Highmark Walk, and because Highmark generously underwrites the cost of the Walk, 100% of the funds you raise come directly to SSD. Sign up as a walker or virtual walker and #WalkforSSD!
Saturday, May 21, 2016
Harrisburg Area Community College
1 HACC Drive
Harrisburg, PA 17110
All of our service dogs in training are crate trained. Until
they’re 16 weeks old, they ride in a crate in the car. At home or at the
office, our puppies spend time in crates. They’ll spend time crated while
they’re in advanced training, and they will most likely spend some time in a
crate after they’re placed as working service dogs.
The goal is for the dog to go into their crate on cue
(“kennel”) and then be able to spend at least 8 consecutive hours quietly
relaxing inside with the door closed. The dog should be able to relax quietly
in their crate overnight, during the day, when they’re alone, and when people
There’s a misconception that crate time is a punishment, but
that could not be farther from the truth. A dog’s crate is their safe spot.
Think of the crate as the dog’s bedroom. It’s a place to relax, where they
don’t need to think about working.
Why is crate training
There are many reasons why crate training is important for
Crates are a way for
puppy raisers to manage their dog’s behavior.
If the raiser has errands to run and cannot take their puppy
with them, crating the dog can prevent that dog from getting into mischief
while they’re home alone. For example, crating the dog will prevent them from
forming bad house manners, such as hopping on furniture or countersurfing.
Our dogs never outgrow crate time. Crate training is
actually part of a dog’s good house manners, and dogs that cannot spend time
quietly in their crate may be discharged.
Dogs spend time in
crates during advanced training.
When our dogs in training come to the kennel for advanced
training, they will be spending time in a crate. We may have anywhere from
15-20 dogs in advanced training at one time. While the dogs spend time working
with our trainers and going out in public with our volunteers, they don’t train
for the entire day. They need time to relax, and one place where they do that
is in the crate.
Crates give service
dogs a place to relax.
We recommend that our partners get a crate for their dog. It
gives the dog a place where they know they can relax stress-free. For facility
dogs that are supporting many people or children, the crate becomes even more
important. Working with an entire classroom of students is very challenging for
a service dog. In fact, it takes a special temperament to be able to do this
work because it can be very stressful. Having a crate—a safe spot—gives
facility dogs a stress-free zone to relax, take a nap, or chew on a bone.
Crates are a place
where service dogs can safely sleep.
It’s the partner’s choice whether their service dog is
allowed on the bed. Not all of our partners want their service dog to sleep in
bed with them. Depending on the person’s disability, it may not be possible for
the service dog to sleep in bed. For example, a person may use certain medical
equipment at night, or it could be that any movement by the dog on a bed causes
the person pain. The crate becomes the perfect place for the dog to sleep,
eliminating the possibility that the dog will help themselves to the bed during
How to crate train
To help your dog enjoy being in their crate, start by
putting the crate in an area where your dog will still be able to see people.
You don’t want your dog to be isolated from everyone when they’re in their
crate. You can also include a soft blanket and a safe, favorite toy.
Introduce your dog to the crate simply by tossing a piece of
dog food inside. Let your dog go inside to eat it, but leave the door open. If your
dog chooses to stay inside the crate, great! Leave the door open and keep
tossing kibble inside every few seconds. If your dog chooses to exit the crate
during this exercise, that’s okay, too.
Once you’ve introduced the crate, feed your dog a meal
inside it at least once a day. Soon, your dog will associate good things (food
and mealtime!) with the crate.
When your dog is inside the crate, it’s really important NOT
to let them out if they whine or bark. If you let them out every time they whine
or bark, they’ll learn that making noise is the way to get out of the crate.
Only let them out after they’ve been quiet for a little while. This part of
crate training can be very challenging for puppy raisers because some dogs can
be very determined barkers! But stay strong and wait them out. You, our
trainers, and the dog’s future partner will all benefit.
Once your dog is comfortable being quiet in their crate,
move the crate to different locations and add challenges! Your dog should be
able to relax quietly and calmly in their crate when:
Other dogs are crated nearby
Other dogs are off leash around the crate
You're working with another dog (Team up with a friend if you don't have two dogs available.)
Susquehanna Service Dogs raises, trains, and places service dogs to assist individuals with disabilities. We train service, hearing, balance and companion dogs to support men, women, and children to be more independent.