Welcome to the new monthly blog! We hope you will enjoy the information we share and we encourage you to also follow us on Facebook (Service Dogs of Virginia), Twitter (#servicedogsva) and Instagram (servicedogsva).
People often ask us where we get the dogs we train to be service dogs. While we do get some puppies from breeders, the majority of pups come from the cooperative breeding program we are members of and from our own independent breeding program. We are accredited by Assistance Dogs International, so we are able to be members of the ADINA* Breeding Cooperative. The co-op puppies are bred from genetic lines that have the traits and temperaments we are looking for in successful service dogs. Our own breeding program uses our carefully selected breeding females that are paired with guide dog studs to ensure healthy and temperamentally sound pups. (*Assistance Dogs International North America)
One of our breeding females, Holly had eight puppies in January of this year. Her offspring are just now coming into their advanced training period. It is a big adjustment involving a new home and coming into the training center more often, so we don’t rush it. Holly was bred again in August at Southeastern Guide Dogs and we know from ultrasound that she is carrying six to seven pups due on or about November 15th. Needless to say, we are excited about puppies!
As we consider a new litter, we are mindful that a successful service dog must be nurtured from birth. When the pups are four days old, we will conduct a two-week neurological stimulation program, which exposes the developing brains to new smells, body positions, and sensations; their eyes and ears will still be closed. As they grow, they will be introduced to a wide variety of interactive environments along with the exploration of the outdoors as is developmentally appropriate. The purpose of exposing them to these stimuli is to educate their growing brains at significant milestones, which results in confident, resilient puppies. It involves lots of time and effort but is well worth the investment.
The eighth round of our Sponsor a Dog campaign has begun! We made changes to this year’s sponsorship to give you more fulfillment options and more flexibility in choices. SDV canvas tote bags and SDV supporter t-shirts are new fulfillment items in addition to our famous paw paintings and unique SDV note cards. Have fun choosing dogs to sponsor and making your fulfillment selections. You will receive quarterly email updates describing the dogs’ progress as they move through advanced training, so please don’t forget to include your email address.
If you are not on our mailing list, you can sponsor online: Sponsor a Dog. If you are on our mailing list, you should receive the Sponsor a Dog mailing any day now. Sponsorships make great gifts for the dog lover who has everything and for the young and young at heart that want to follow a service dog in training’s progress.
Remember, your sponsorships support our work and allow us to place service dogs at no cost with our deserving clients.