|from Katy Harrison Ostroff
As we begin this holiday season and start to look toward the new year, I know many of you have questions as you wait for the right match. I thought I would capture some of these questions and their corresponding answers.
We hope the following helps.
Why are your emails so general and not specific about when I’ll be matched?
The bi-monthly emails you receive from me are a way to provide information about our operations at NEADS. My response to personal emails about time to match are also general in nature as I can’t predict when you will be matched. Why? When we make a match, you get the call right away. NEADS dogs drive the decision about which program they are best suited for and when they are ready to be matched with their specific client.
NEADS recently held a graduation; why were those clients matched?
You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t wonder, “Why not me?” At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we match based on the right dog for the right client, and the dogs drive our decisions about matching (See above).
Remind me again why NEADS isn’t making its typical 50 matches per year?
Prior to the start of Covid-19 in March 2020, NEADS received puppies from other Service and Guide Dog organizations. But when Covid-19 started, the approximately 60 puppies per year that NEADS received went to zero. Many of the other organizations stopped breeding for safety reasons during the heart of the pandemic. When they returned to breeding, they needed to build up their supply of puppies for their own programs.
You may have read that NEADS had started its own breeding program in 2019 as a way to complement the number of dogs received from other organizations. But with Covid-19, our brand-new breeding program became our sole source of dogs for the foreseeable future. This was a seismic shift in our thinking and capacity.
Through great effort and determination, adhering to strict protocols, we kept our very young breeding program going in order to get as many puppies as possible into the program. In the last two years, we more than doubled the number of litters whelped. For an organization just beginning its breeding program, this was an enormous jump. In the years ahead, we are planning significant growth.
How will the new Breeding Center help?
Our current Nursery has the capacity to handle 2 litters at a time, 5 if we use overflow space in the building. The new Breeding Center, an 11,000 square foot facility that is ¼ mile down the road from our campus, was designed to handle up to 10 litters at a time. We expect to begin using the center in the early months of 2022. And while responsibly growing a breeding program means we won’t immediately begin using all the space in the Center, our goal is to eventually breed and train enough dogs so that we are making 65 matches per year. But that will take time.
Where did the money come from for the new Breeding Center? My donors think NEADS used their money.
Please be assured that the fundraising done by our clients to meet their fundraising goals was not part of the NEADS Capital Campaign for the new Breeding Center. The Capital Campaign reached its goal thanks to generous donors who specifically donated to that project.
Client Services emails always end by asking us to provide any updates. What kind of updates do you need?
Any accepted client has, I am quite sure, very “fond” memories of the lengthy interview that you had when first accepted into the program. After the interview, Client Services staff develops a robust written profile that includes each client’s needs for a Service Dog, lifestyle, daily activities, medical concerns, current address, etc. If you have moved and your access to a fenced in exercise space has changed, if your assistive devices have changed, or if a new family member has joined your family, all of these of details matter when we make a match.
When we have dogs ready to be matched, the Trainers and Client Services staff pour over these profiles to identify the right candidates for those dogs. I think you can only imagine how disappointing it would be if we called you with a match and learned that something in your life now doesn’t “match” up with the dog that we had hoped to partner with you.
In closing, please send me any updates about your life and any questions that you may have. I always look forward to hearing from you and I know that truly the best day for you will be when I call you with a match. Covid-19 has changed the pace at which we are matching clients, but not our desire to match each and everyone of you with the right dog.