When Fidelco Volunteer Puppy Raiser Instructor Wendy Davis brought home the D-29 litter of eight 4½-week-old puppies in February, she had no idea of how the world was about to change. As a longtime Fidelco staff member in the Puppy Department and experienced Golden Retriever breeder and show handler, Wendy knows a thing or two about puppies.
Before the disruption of COVID-19, Wendy had offered to take litters of puppies to her home to give the Pup House staff a much-needed break. “I’m completely set up to take on a litter of puppies. I have all the equipment and the dogs benefit greatly from the presence of my pet Golden Retrievers as they grow. I live in the woods and the sights and sounds they love to investigate help with their early training,” says Wendy. Wendy brought home some toys from the Pup House to get the puppies acclimated to their new home, and within just a few days—to Wendy’s delight—they learned to use the bathroom area. As the weather improved, so did outdoor activities. Some of the pups’ favorite activities were running in the grass and along the dirt driveway, learning to climb stone stairs, chasing Wendy’s Golden Retrievers, and watching her husband move his boat.
The D-29 litter is the result of a first-ever collaboration with Guiding Eyes for the Blind in New York. This is a significant step in continuing to improve the German Shepherd Dog breed. Fidelco has always worked to increase the work ethic, intelligence, and stamina of its dogs and is known for a high success rate in placements and longevity of service. Genetic diversity is key in contributing to enhance the breed. We will learn how sharing bloodlines from other guide dog schools enhances and improves the health and performance of Fidelco’s breed colony and contributes our knowledge to other schools who breed German Shepherd dogs.
Of the eight puppies in the D-29 litter, seven have entered the guide dog training program. They are now six months old and have had their third evaluation walk. Half the pups are being raised by repeat volunteer Puppy Raisers and the other half are being raised by new Puppy Raisers. We are excited to continue following their journeys as they prepare to become trusted guide dogs for people who are blind.
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