St Francis Service Dogs Fall/Winter 2018


T hey are round and soft with liquid eyes and that distinctive warm puppy smell. They are somehow wiggly, cuddly and funny all at once. They burst into the Saint Francis building with puppy joy and frolic straight into our hearts. They are the Puppies. We cannot do what we do without puppies. Where do these furry balls of sweetness come from? They come from many places, some of them surprising. Our first source of puppies is breeders . Although we mostly have retrievers in our program, we have had success with a variety of breeds including Shelties, German Shorthaired Pointers, Portuguese Water Dogs, Standard Poodles and others as well as Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers. One of the most recent additions to our program is an Irish Water Spaniel. The breeders that work with us are a very special group of individuals. They strive to produce the best puppies by doing extensive research and planning long before a breeding takes place. The dogs in their breeding pools are screened for genetic disorders and have the health clearances recommended for their particular breed. The breeders seek to produce dogs that have good temperaments, are structurally sound, and will be solid, happy working dogs. They are a dedicated group of people

that not only care for the welfare and preservation of their chosen breed but also support the mission of Saint Francis. Once born, the puppies will be weighed and identified. Their weights will be monitored and recorded daily. As the puppies grow, the breeder will start to introduce the puppies to the world of humans. Puppies are handled regularly, given structured games, and introduced to many things and people so that they are prepared for their new lives. They will visit their veterinarian for a check-up and vaccinations before leaving for their new homes. Many breeders will go through this intensive, expensive process and then donate a puppy to Saint Francis. It is a generous act – both financially and emotionally – to entrust a beloved puppy to our program. It is a responsibility we take very seriously. As we further the work the mother and breeder began, we stay in touch with our breeders, updating them on the puppy’s progress. Our next source is the Assistance Dogs International (ADI) Breeding Cooperative . This is a surprising discovery for many people because it is a unique system. ADI Accredited programs like Saint Francis may join a network of other accredited assistance dog programs across the United States and Canada to share breeding stock.


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