LEARNING & TRAINING

Expert tips and behind-the-scenes looks at the service dog industry.

Updated: Nov 28



Project 2 Heal is proud to announce that we've recently begun a partnership with Metrolina Association for the Blind! This exciting new collaboration will allow our training team to socialize future service dogs with blind and visually impaired children enrolled in the Student Enrichment Experience after school program (S.E.E.). In tandem with Metrolina Association for the Blind, this program is run by IFB Solutions, a nonprofit corporation providing employment, training, and service for people who are blind or visually impaired.


While our future service dogs certainly benefit from the arrangement (socialization with children and training in a public setting), Project 2 Heal is incredibly excited about the benefits we're able to provide to these children. We recently spoke with India Lamboy, Occupational Therapist with Metrolina Association for the Blind to learn more about the impact our puppies make in the S.E.E. after school program.


"It's the Most Amazing Thing!"

During our visit last week, our puppies were a major hit among the kids. The children were very excited, and as India described the visit, "It was a big morale booster... having the puppies visit was awesome!" S.E.E. brings in different groups and activities from the community to help kids develop social skills and general life abilities. India hopes that Project 2 Heal's involvement will provide these children a great opportunity to learn very important dog-handling skills.


"Many of our kids may grow up to have seeing-eye dogs, so one of the things I'd like to see in the future is some real-life dog skills. I'd really like to show them what it's like to have a puppy or walk a puppy... for them to find out if a dog will pull on a leash."


For many people, some of the most essential aspects of dog ownership are taken for granted.

  • Knowing when a dog needs to be fed.

  • Knowing when a dog needs to go outside.

  • Once outside, being able to tell if a dog went #1 or #2.

Each of these aspects of owning a dog typically relies on sight. But for seeing-eye dog owners (and future owners), there need to be other means of navigation. India says it's important for these children to gain experience now, because some have no experience with dogs and are even rather timid among the animals.


(Also, in case you were wondering—seeing-eye dog owners will often feel the arch of their dog's back in order to determine if there is anything to pick up after a visit outdoors.)



Overcoming the Unexpected.


Like a few of the children enrolled with S.E.E., many blind or visually impaired children are cautious of unexpected things. When it comes to puppy visits, this may manifest in being hesitant toward the possibility of barking, biting, or licking. Perhaps one of the most moving parts of the visit was watching a child overcome his hesitation toward our puppies by touching the paw of our puppy Gus.


"Maybe next time he can touch Gus' tail," India said. "Over time he may become more familiar and confident."


Our puppies also provided a new sensory experience for many of these kids. (Like a puppy tail to the face!) These visits will give children with visual impairment a chance to experience things they can't see, like the feel of a puppy's paw or fur, sound of a bark, or even smell of puppy breath!


 

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Supporting Our Mission During Giving Tuesday:


For the past two years, we've celebrated the giving season with an incredible marathon of puppy videos known as Pup-a-Thon. This year, we're counting down our all-time greatest videos captured since our founding, each day for two weeks leading up to #GivingTuesday! Pup-a-thon 2022 kicked off on November 15th, but our all-time greatest video will be announced on Giving Tuesday, November 29th!


This year, we're working toward fundraising goals in three major categories: Puppy Operations, Facility Maintenance, and our World-Class Labrador Breeding Program. Each of these areas of funding are imperative to our success as the only organization in the United States committed to breeding, nurturing, and training Labrador Retriever puppies, for the purpose of donation to service dog partner organizations nationwide.


$50,000 is our goal this Giving Tuesday. Help us sustain our life-saving work into 2023!



 



We're kicking off #GivingTuesday early by giving back to the rescue community! Last week, Project 2 Heal began fostering 4 rescue puppies from the Human Society of Union County! We opened our doors to these puppies so they could breast feed with our mother dog Charm, who recently lost all but one puppy from her own litter due to birthing complications. At only 2 weeks old, the rescue puppies still need mother's milk—however their own mother was too small to feed her entire litter.


Giving Our Puppies Strength In Numbers.


When it comes to nurturing puppies in preparation for service dog work, it's very important that a puppy be raised in a group. Living with siblings for a short time allows puppies learn to interact with other dogs and acclimate to the extensive socialization involved in service dog training. Living in a group with siblings also helps puppies stay warm and become stronger. Through competition for food, puppies are forced to climb over one another and develop muscles.


In this way, raising one puppy alone is quite a detriment. Referred to as "a singleton," this puppy won't receive the physical and social development from which it would benefit in a group.

 
 

Learn More About #GivingTuesday and Pup-a-Thon 2022!

 

Charm LOVES Her New Puppies!


At Project 2 Heal, we ensure that our mother dogs each possess a strong maternal instinct. This allows for the best nurturing possible for our future service dogs. Charm is no exception, taking to these rescue puppies immediately! The rescue puppies didn't hesitate at all... they sure were hungry!


These rescue puppies will receive the same nurturing and training that all Project 2 Heal puppies receive. We spend hours each day with our puppies, providing them with development processes including early neurological stimulation, early scent introduction, and obedience training. These puppies should be very adoptable by the time they finish with our nurturing, knowing basic commands at the age of 8 weeks.


While one-third of what a puppy becomes as an adult dog is determined by it's pedigree (genetic lineage), two-thirds can be traced back to the nurturing received during its Critical Phase—the first 12 weeks of life.

 

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Supporting Our Mission During Giving Tuesday:


For the past two years, we've celebrated the giving season with an incredible marathon of puppy videos known as Pup-a-Thon. This year, we're counting down our all-time greatest videos captured since our founding, each day for two weeks leading up to #GivingTuesday! Pup-a-thon 2022 will kick off on November 15th, with our all-time greatest video being announced on Giving Tuesday, November 29th!


This year, we're working toward fundraising goals in three major categories: Puppy Operations, Facility Maintenance, and our World-Class Labrador Breeding Program. Each of these areas of funding are imperative to our success as the only organization in the United States committed to breeding, nurturing, and training Labrador Retriever puppies, for the purpose of donation to service dog partner organizations nationwide.

 

$50,000 is our goal this Giving Tuesday. Help us sustain our life-saving work into 2023!




Since most charitable giving is done during the holiday season (mark your calendars, #GivingTuesday is November 29th!), we wanted to talk with longtime Project 2 Heal support and CEO/Financial Advisor at My Money Coach LLC, Mike Ross CFP®. Mike offered some great advice about a crucial way to make your donation do as much good for you as it does for us.


Giving the Gift of Security (...or Securities!)


While making donations to charity brings both the satisfaction of helping further an important mission as well as potentially saving you money on taxes, did you know that many donors are leaving money on the table by simply writing a check to their favorite charity?

Since I'm not a tax advisor, I encourage you to speak with your own tax advisor to determine the best scenario for your personal giving strategy. However, I would like to point out how gifting appreciated securities works within the tax code and how it might be an effective tool to stretch your philanthropy dollars.


Let's Compare Two End-of-Year Scenarios:

  1. A gift of $50,000 cash

  2. A gift of $50,000 in appreciated securities

First, let's look at the similarities. Regardless of whether you give $50,000 in cash or $50,000 in appreciated securities, the charity receive $50,000 and you receive credit for making a $50,000 donation, which can reduce your tax liability. At first glance, the two methods are identical in that they provide the same contribution amount, same deduction from your net worth, and the same amount of money for the nonprofit to put toward their mission.

 

Related Article:


Our Role In Repairing the Service Dog Supply Chain

 

Gifting Appreciated Securities Vs. Cash


However, there is a major benefit in gifting appreciated shares that cash gifts do not provide: total avoidance of capital gain tax on the gift shares. The capital gains tax rate can be as high as 20%, and by gifting appreciated securities the tax can be completely avoided on these securities.

Let's assume you purchased shares on stock five years ago for $25,000 and they are now worth $50,000. If you simply wrote a check for $50,000, you would get credit for your donation, but you would still be in possession of these shares that have an unrealized capital gain embedded within. Based on the current tax rates, selling these shares could result in a tax liability of almost $5,000 (based on the 20% maximum capital gains tax rate.)


Rather than holding onto that potential future tax liability, you could instead simply donate the appreciated shares and then purchase $50,000 of the same securities if you wanted to continue to hold it. This would have no impact on the charity, but instead would prevent capital gains tax from ever being paid on those investments.


Create Your Giving Strategy for 2022


While this giving strategy is easy with things like stocks and bonds, it can also be done with any other appreciated property. If you want to learn more, I'm happy to chat with any Project 2 Heal donors to answer questions and help make your gifts more powerful!


Feel free to contact Mike Ross, CFP® at (704) 951-7350 or via email at mike@mymoney.coach. You can also visit his website at www.mymoney.coach.




 

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Training and Nurturing Puppies at Project 2 Heal:


At Project 2 Heal, we breed Labrador Retriever puppies for the purpose of donating these animals at 8 to 12 weeks of age to one of our partner organizations. From there, our puppies are trained extensively in service dog work and matched with an individual in need.


Our process begins with Early Neurological Stimulation, which are exercises conducted during the first two weeks of life—beginning at only 48 hours after birth!—that slightly stress the puppy's nervous system and allow them to become less reactive to novel stimuli as adults. This process includes the following:

  • Tactile stimulation: Stimulating puppy paws through touch our tickling.

  • Holding the head of the puppy erect.

  • Holding the head of the puppy pointed downward.

  • Supine position: Resting the puppy on its back in the palm of hands.

  • Thermal Stimulation: Placing feet of puppy on top of a cool, damp towel and allowing the puppy to move about.

Service Dog Scent Training:


Also occurring during the first 14 days, service dog training includes a process called early scent introduction. This training exposes dogs to smells it will encounter during working life. During this process, trainers pay close attention to the way puppies react to various smells. This helps identify which puppies may not be suited to work as a service dog.


Service Dog Clicker Training:


Championed by Karen Prior Academy, clicker training service dogs is a method that teaches puppies about associations. Puppies learn commands through a combination of rewards and clicking sounds. During service dog training, high-level tasks are broken into smaller tasks, after which puppies are rewarded with food and stimulated with sound from a handheld clicker.


Eventually food and clicking sounds are phased out so that puppies are able to execute tasks upon command.

 

Our mission is to reduce the cost and time necessary to place a service dog with a veteran, child with special needs, or adult with disabilities.

 

How Can You Help Further Our Mission?

When you donate only $5 per month, your contribution covers important expenses, including:

  • First vet visit for entire litter

  • 50 pounds of high-quality dog

  • 1 puppy eye exam

  • 6 bags of high-value reward training treats

  • 1 puppy-in-training service dog vest

As you can see, there are a number of ways that $5 monthly donations can make a real impact at Project 2 Heal. With an average cost of $5,000 to raise and train a puppy litter of puppies through the first 8 weeks of life, we'd love for you to join us on our mission.


You can become a donor at any level that works for you. We need your help to raise puppies and change lives.

 

$5 Monthly Donors


Our bread and butter (or should we say, "kibble?"), these donors cover items listed above, including first vet visits!


Help Us Cover Vet Visits


$10 Monthly Donors


Each of our $10 monthly donors feeds an entire litter from birth to donation. (That's a lot of puppy food!)


Help Feed Our Litters of Puppies


$25 Monthly Donors


$25 a month prevents fleas and ticks for a pup. With 30+ puppies expected in 2021, these donors mean the world!


Help Keep Our Puppies Free of Flea & Ticks