Breeding Stock Host Homes
“Where do babies come from?” This innocent question has stumped many a good parent. But substitute one little word, and the answer comes easy. “Where do Leader Dog puppies come from?” They come from Mom dogs and Dad dogs and the hearts of breeding stock host families.
Female Breeding Host, Puppy Counselor & Puppy Raiser
Photo caption: Mary (pictured in red) and her mother, Sibyl, have both been involved in the Leader Dog breeding stock and puppy programs for many years. They are pictured with (from l to r): Gayla, Swayser, Joy and Claire (laying down).
“I never thought I would be doing this for so long,” confesses Mary Simpson. “I’ve been hosting female breeding stock dogs for 17 years and puppy raising for 21 years. Obviously, I really like the Leader Dog program.”
Mary is currently hosting her 5th LDB Mom, “Swayser,” who is expecting her next litter in December. Over the years, Mary has helped whelp enough litters to lose count of the number of puppies born. “With each new litter born in my home I get two months of heaven. I love when I have the ‘babies’ running around. I also enjoy the last two weeks of the dog’s pregnancy when the ‘pupcorn’ are kicking and I can hear their heartbeats with a neonatal stethoscope.”
Caring for a litter of puppies for 6-8 weeks is hard work; it’s even harder when you are raising those puppies to be Leader Dogs.
Breeding hosts have the responsibility of giving their puppies a lot of stimulation and experiences. This means introducing the puppies to different textures such as tile, concrete, stones, and grass and having a lot of toys for them to explore. Breeding hosts also report each puppy’s progress to LDB veterinarians. Puppies are weighed, charted and tracked to make sure they are growing at a proper rate.
And do we even need to mention the cleaning. Newborn puppies are messy. When asked about it, Mary sighs and matter of factly says, “You just get used to cleaning the whelping box frequently. It’s worth it.”
Male Breeding Host & Puppy Raiser
Photo caption: Mike and his current Breeding Stock Dad “Sailor.” Mike is proud of the many Leader Dogs and breeding stock dogs sired by “his boys.”
“They’re my kids, they’re what I take care of,” says Mike Bond of his dogs. But it was Mike’s human kids that got him involved in Leader Dog. “Both my sons were in 4-H and together we raised several Leader Dog puppies. Shortly after my boys grew up I received my first breeding stock dog.”
Mike gets a kick out of the phone calls he receives from LDB when his dog’s “services” are needed. “One time I was told to bring in my current dog, Sailor, for a hot date,” he laughs. “The date lasted several weeks.” Male breeding stock dogs are often bred to several females in a year. They can even sire litters after they are retired. Though all breeding stock dogs are spayed or neutered upon retirement, semen from the males is collected and frozen prior to neutering. Leader Dog staff then step in to complete the process using artificial insemination.
Mike talks with pride about the 120 puppies that his dogs have sired. Some have even been hand picked to become part of LDB’s breeding colony. Mike is quick to point out that “the female dogs get the glory of giving birth to the puppies, but my ‘boys’ definitely play an important part in the process.”