Carmichael, CA (MPG) | Story and photo by Susan Maxwell Skinner
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The nonprofit’s BEST Service Dogs founder Jan Lopez — and intern Tucker — admire an oil painting by the late Earl Boley. The canvas will be among the artworks auctioned at a fundraiser on September 25.
CARMICHAEL, CA (MPG) — It takes more than a year to prepare a dog to partner with a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder or work with an autistic child.
Carmichael breeder and trainer Jan Lopez – who started the non-profit Service Dog Breeding Education and Training Service six years ago – estimates $25,000 is needed for the process . Expenses rise beyond the cost of the puppy itself: the specialized training, food, vet bills and health clearances all add up.
A fundraiser on September 25 will support Lopez’s operation. Guests at his open house will meet dogs in training and be offered a chance to bid on the art. Paintings by famous painter Carmichael Earl Boley are among the auction items. Other artists include Helen Plenert, SR Jones, Susan Leith, Gray Lux, Euan Rannachan and Gabriel Teague. The event will take place on Lopez’s ranch-style Carmichael property.
Lopez’s Labrador Retrievers (a favorite breed for service training) have been placed with national agencies such as Paws for Purple Hearts, Joyful Paws Service Dogs and Good Dog Service Canines. “You can’t have service dogs without puppies,” she says. “My puppies go to experienced groups that provide dogs to people who desperately need them.
“One of my dogs is in Connecticut; others are in Detroit, San Antonio, Nebraska and New York. They are all good Carmichael dogs, but they will work where needed.
Training starts with basic obedience skills and works towards public access. “That includes trips to stores, restaurants, parks,” she says. “They train wherever their potential partners might want to take them.”
When dog lovers see a trainer and student shopping, they are gently reminded that a work crew should not be distracted. “It’s understandable that people want to approach them,” says the trainer. “But they have to do their job. Service dogs will eventually be matched with people who want to lead a normal life.
His breeding operation produces one or two litters a year, and the puppies are placed in service agencies at around nine weeks old. “It’s hard to part with a puppy that you raised with love,” Lopez says. But it’s my philosophy to be happy. They are going somewhere where they will be loved. They will change someone’s life for the better.
Inquire about the art show/fundraiser at www.bestservicedogs.org or call (916) 277 5189.