UDS Plans Annual Golf Tournament
July 21, 2022 | By Ann Mead Ash https://townlively.com/working-dogs/
Lori Breece, manager with United Disabilities Services (UDS) service dogs, especially likes coming to work on Wednesdays because that is when Quincy, a UDS ambassador dog, spends the day with her. “(Quincy) is the best dog,” said Breece. “This morning, I dropped a paper towel, and he picked it up and gave it to me.” Quincy was trained to be a full-service dog, but health issues kept him from that role.
Ambassador dogs represent UDS by visiting sponsors and doing demonstrations, among other jobs. Recently, Quincy posed for promotional photos at Crossgates Golf Club, 1 Crossland Pass, Millersville, to help advertise the annual golf tournament to benefit the program. The tournament will be held on Friday, Aug. 26, beginning at 7 a.m. Sponsorship and registration details may be found at https://udservices.org/uds-service-dogs-golf-tournament-2022.
UDS service dogs are perhaps best known for helping individuals with mobility issues or autism. These dogs train for more than two years before they are partnered with an individual for whom they may open and close doors, retrieve objects, and more. UDS program trainers Janna Barley and Lorrie Snyder work together to match dogs with clients and help the canines learn the specific skills for that role.
In addition to full-service dogs, UDS trains companion dogs that work with clients at home. Breece explained that these dogs do not wear a vest or have the same public access rights as service dogs, but they make significant contributions to an individual’s independence. Barley pointed out that Oliver is a service dog that was placed in the home of a woman with mobility issues. “Oliver can open a sliding glass door for her and close it again, and he can fetch anything she has dropped,” she explained.
The need for facility dogs has “exploded” since 2016, according to Breece. Secondary trainer Susan Vollmar works with puppy trainer and breeder Kristy Conrad to place facility dogs, mostly in schools. “For our last fiscal year, we added 18 schools to our waiting list,” said Breece. “(Facility dogs) have a lot of the same training (as service dogs),” she said. Vollmar noted that dogs work with handlers from the facility, who receive training at UDS and at the school. She noted that dogs can mediate a student crisis, often helping to de-escalate a student who might otherwise have to be sent home. Facility dogs also serve as nonjudgmental “read” dogs, helping students who struggle with reading to practice and gain confidence.
Breece explained that UDS trains Labradors because the dogs learn quickly and will change allegiance easily. The organization is always seeking funding for the care and training of puppies. “We are bringing in 14 to 18 new puppies each year, and our current waiting list for facility dogs working in Lancaster and York counties has reached 20 as well as our having a healthy waiting list for mobility service dogs,” she explained, noting that puppies may be sponsored by businesses, employees of businesses, churches, or other groups. More information about the services the organization provides may be found at http://www.udservices.org.