November 29, 2012
There are quite a few service dog organizations out there. They all are doing great work. Service Dog Project is different in a few ways. First they are completely non profit, running entirely on donations and almost all volunteer efforts. They place their dogs at no charge. They breed and train their own Great Danes and have 7 generations of dogs in their program. They breed a large, sturdy dog that is more suited for people who have balance and mobility issues. Returning veterans with brain injuries often need a larger dog to help be the rock beside them. Great Danes are well suited for this and it is very rare to find Dane service dogs. They train all their dogs themselves, no volunteer puppy raisers. Dogs do go home with volunteers for occasional overnights as part of training. There are about 50 dogs on site at any given time. They take back retired dogs, dogs who lose their service partner, and they care for dogs temporarily whose partner is sick. They have placed about 100 dogs in their 10 year history, and have made a commitment to increase their graduates from about 10 a year to 30 a year. Right now there are 16 puppies at the house and another dozen on site that will graduate in the next year. This is a huge endeavor and the volunteers and donors have really stepped up to fund this effort and contribute in other ways. Right now you can watch 3, 24/7 puppy cams on explore.org It has been fantastic, educational and inspiring to watch a litter of 8 born live on the cam. The cams will follow this litter from birth to graduation, which is about a one year process. SDP invites people to come visit (and work) on Sundays. It's pot luck and a great way for people to interact, meet the dogs, volunteers, and clients, become part of the SDP family, and learn more about the program. SDP is a working farm and also rescues donkeys and horses from kill pens. Every month they have a fundraiser just to pay the food bill. This is a truly worthy program.
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