On Wednesday, March 22, we held a very special baby shower for a first-time expecting mother. However, this mom-to-be isn’t hoping for a healthy baby with 10 fingers and 10 toes. Instead, Mama Dell is hoping for her offspring to each have four furry paws and a wagging tail.
Due April 2, Dell will give birth to puppies that will be raised and trained as assistance dogs to help people with disabilities. The baby shower was not only celebrating this miracle of birth, but also the many volunteers who help care for these dogs, as they develop from newborns until over 2 years old, when the dogs enter final training to then be placed with a client.
The lively party included the shower guests—five dogs in that final training stage—to play a game of guessing the number of puppies Dell would deliver by running to and lying down on their fuzzy mat of choice, which corresponded with a number. The dogs then each delivered a present to the volunteer couple, Kim and Mark Diekmann, who will be helping Dell and her puppies during their first few weeks of life together. Gifts included not only puppy toys and food, but also baby nail clippers, a thermometer, baby onesies—so the little ones can get used to wearing a cape on their body someday, and more.
Dell, herself, could not be in attendance since she needs to stay away from other animals during this time for health reasons. All guests—canine and human—were then treated to appropriate cupcakes.
Although we use shelter dogs for their mission when possible, data shows that our purpose-bred dogs have double the success rate of becoming assistance dogs. Since clients rely on us to find them the right dog to fit their life and best help them, most of the dogs begin in the organization's breeding program. Through careful review of genetics, appropriate exposures, and expert education, the organization is able to breed dogs ideal for work. They strive for the best structure, temperament, and health history in the dogs and to improve on every generation of dogs.