Nearly a year ago, Dogs for Better Lives officially opened its doors to the new Northeast Campus in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Recently, the Northeast regional team celebrated significant milestones, including two key Assistance Dog certifications and the selection of the region’s first breeder dog.
Since accepting the first dogs into professional training last summer, the Northeast Campus has housed 13 dogs in various stages of their training or working life and 8 dogs have come through for professional training after being with volunteer Puppy Raisers locally. Currently there are two dogs in training and an additional two dogs who will be returning to campus in the coming months.
First Dogs Certified
Two Assistance Dogs, Skye and Finnick, were the first dogs placed out of the Northeast Campus. These two dogs were raised locally in Massachusetts by volunteer Puppy Raisers and returned to campus to receive their professional training. Both successfully passed the certification requirements to become Hearing Assistance Dogs.
Finnick and Skye were matched with clients and will be placed in their respective client homes in March for 1:1 training. Dogs for Better Lives places dogs in-home instead of having the client travel to our campus. A Certified Trainer travels with the dog to the new client’s home for one week of hands-on transition and skills-retention training, with the goal of setting up our clients and dogs for success.
“Both dogs had special personalities and quirks that taught me a lot as a trainer, but their eagerness to learn and work was so fulfilling,” said Apprentice Trainer, Emilia Wenner. “These two pups will always have a special place in my heart, and I am honored to say that I have been a part of training and placing the first dogs in the Northeast region!”
Future Generations of Service Dogs in the Northeast
In addition to these first two placements, Dogs for Better Lives has officially selected a breeder dog in the Northeast region. Frosty, a black lab that was raised locally in Massachusetts and trained at the Northeast Campus, passed stringent health and temperament tests that make her a great candidate for producing the next generations of Service Dogs.
Frosty is a part of our F Litter, who we followed in a recent article.
Frosty will remain in the Cape Cod area with a local family who will be her Breeder Caretaker. Breeder Caretakers care for the dog full-time and assist in whelping puppies, in addition to playing a large role in raising and socializing puppies until they are old enough to transition into their raiser homes.
Growing our Local Volunteer Network
The Northeast Campus has been fortunate to have puppy raisers throughout the region with an additional 11 puppies currently placed with Puppy Raisers. Volunteer Puppy Raisers are instrumental in helping our puppies learn about the world, develop basic skills and grow up ready to change the life of someone in need. Learn more and apply to become a Puppy Raiser with Dogs for Better Lives.
“Raising Finn was joy. He is such a sweet, smart, affectionate boy,” said Jackie, Finnick’s Puppy Raiser. “It was hard to let him go, but I have been so proud of his progress in ‘Puppy College’ and am thrilled that he is about to be placed in his forever home. I know he will be a great helper and a wonderful companion to his new owner and I’m sure she will love him as much as we do.”
Not all dogs make great Assistance Dogs. In those cases, Dogs for Better Lives works with other organizations when we determine a dog is not ideal for one of our programs but may thrive in a different working role. One of the dogs who came through campus has been transferred to an organization in New Hampshire, Operation Delta Dogs, for training to be placed with a Veteran with PTSD. Dogs for Better Lives is eager to continue to grow partnerships in the region to help place working dogs in their dream careers – even if it isn’t with Dogs for Better Lives.
With just under a year of operating as a training campus for Dogs for Better Lives, the Northeast region is off to an exciting start.
“We have seen tremendous progress in a short amount of time due to our incredible staff, volunteers and supporters. Dogs for Better Lives has been fortunate to be embraced by the Northeast community and we are looking forward to continued growth,” said Sarah McCracken, Northeast Executive Director.
Learn more about Dogs for Better Lives! Visit our website or reach out to our team:
Donor & Sponsor opportunities: Danielle Kempe, Northeast Development Manager
Puppy Raising opportunities: Liz Martins, Northeast Puppy Program Coordinator
Partnerships and media: Sarah McCracken, Executive Director, Northeast Region