On Twitter: @HeroLabradors
On Facebook (I think that is the right link)(CM: it is)
I am a wounded warrior. A service dog helped me immensely in my recovery, and has continued to help me live a normal life. One of the things instilled in me during my years of service was a dedication to a lifetime of service to our nation. To that end, I am starting Hero Labradors.
Hero Labradors has a simple goal: I am breeding AKC registered Labrador retrievers to serve our wounded veterans.
There are many wounded and disabled service members who could benefit from a service dog. There are many charities that train and provide these dogs for free to veterans. The kink in the pipeline is the dogs. Not every dog has the temperament or aptitude to be a service dog.
So, my premise is simple: If a dog line can be bred from good hunters to produce dogs with great hunting drive, or a line can be bred to produce dogs with great show lines, why not try to breed dogs to produce the qualities that are common in service dogs?
The Labrador retriever is my choice for several reasons--
1. I personally have owned two Labrador service dogs, and have owned many Labrador pets throughout my life. I love the breed and find them not only great companions, but also readily trainable.
2. They possess the right body type and weight to assist full grown adults with many mobility and stability issues.
3. They are handily America's favorite dog breed
4. They have a great and friendly temperament in general, are very good with kids, strangers, and other dogs
5. They usually bond rapidly with their owner, and readily focus on them and their needs
6. They tend to have large litters (6-10 pups) meaning there is a greater chance of producing dogs with service aptitude
There are a multitude of other reasons (too many to list!) but I want to fill a niche that I have not seen filled: a breeder with a primary goal of breeding aptitude for service, and (importantly) providing these dogs free to charities that will in turn pair them with a wounded warrior, train them to meet the warrior's needs, and then donate the dog to the wounded warrior.
Normally, an AKC lab from the lines I breed would run upwards of $2500 per pup. I take care of feeding, vaccinations, weaning, rearing, and housing these pups until they are donated or (for the ones who don't make the cut for service dogs) sold as pets. This endeavor isn't a cheap one, but it's a labor of love. I am exploring setting this up as an LLC and a non-profit, more to follow on that; right now, I believe that the best thing is to focus on the dogs and on spreading the word that this program exists.
I had a litter (only three pups) in August, of these, one has been accepted as a service dog by Dogs Helping Heroes, another is soon to be evaluated for service, and #3 is going to stay with me to continue the breeding line.
How can you help? Share this with your friends and let people know we're out here.