Tuesday, March 31, 2015
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Puppy love: Litter will be trained as service dogs

DeDe1aW

Dede, a yellow Labrador/golden retriever mix, is the proud mom of nine healthy puppies born in mid-August at the home of Karen Nathanson and her son Josh Milenbach. The pups — eight yellow and one black — are bred for the nonprofit Canine Companions for Independence. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

By
From page A1 | September 10, 2013 |

Karen Nathanson, her son Josh Milenbach and her fiancé recently celebrated the arrival of nine healthy puppies.

All puppies are greeted with joy, but this litter born in mid-August is special. The puppies are the family’s third litter for the nonprofit Canine Companions for Independence, which trains companion and service dogs for people with disabilities such as autism or deafness.

Nathanson and a fellow volunteer for CCI served as midwives for the births, which were spread over five hours.

Nathanson and Milenbach happened upon CCI in 2010 in their rabbi’s office at Congregation Bet Haverim, while Milenbach was in the midst of deciding his bar mitzvah project. They ran into a family friend who was a volunteer for CCI, and Milenbach was drawn to the idea of caring for dogs while also helping others.

“I like the fact that we are taking care of potential service dogs,” Milenbach said. “It really hits me hard, and it’s very meaningful to me to know that I can possibly help.”

Nathanson is a physical therapist, and saw raising a service dog as an opportunity to “instill in (Josh) the importance of helping other people.”

“I’m always surrounded by people with disabilities, so I wanted to teach Josh the importance of not being afraid to approach someone with a disability,” Nathanson said. “And having a service dog helps them physically, but also it opens up their social circle and helps draw people closer to them.”

The family applied to raise a puppy, and after an extensive application process, which included both a phone and home interview, they received Dede in May 2010, when she was just 8 weeks old.

After a year and half of basic behavioral training, with Milenbach taking Dede to school and attending weekly classes on how to raise a puppy, the family took Dede to Santa Rosa, CCI’s headquarters, where she underwent a further six months of advanced training. While there, Dede, who is a yellow Labrador with some golden retriever blood, was selected not as a service dog, but as a breeder.

“To be selected as a breeder is actually an honor, because she has the temperament and learning ability, and the genetics to carry on really good qualities,” Nathanson said.

Each CCI breeder dog aims for a total of five litters; this is Dede’s third. Every six months, at the peak of her heat cycle, the family drives Dede to Santa Rosa for breeding, then again four weeks later for an ultrasound.

After the births, which took place in a refurbished room in the Nathanson house, the family takes care of the puppies for eight weeks, moving them into the also-refurbished garage filled with playthings. The pups begin to be weaned at about 4 weeks old and are fed puppy chow.

“Being a breeder-caretaker is a tremendous amount of work, and we just got some of our sleep back, but we’re recruiting a lot of help from friends to help support us,” Nathanson said.

After eight weeks, the family takes a commemorative photograph, then drives the puppies to Santa Rosa for a medical checkup and ear tattoo. Thereafter, the puppies are sent all over the country to puppy-raising families.

“We say goodbye,” Nathanson said. “And yes, it’s hard, we’re very attached to them, but we know that they’re going to go on to wonderful things.”

The families keep in touch via Yahoo groups and social media, exchanging stories and pictures. Dede’s puppies now live as far away as North Carolina and Washington, though she frequently visits one of her daughters in Auburn, who also happens to live with the same family as Dede’s mother, a retired breeder. The breeder caretaker family is able to keep the dog after she retires, and keep in touch with their descendants in the program and elsewhere.

“This whole experience has broadened our social circle, broadened our connection to people all over the country, with all of us working together to raise these dogs and help people,” Nathanson said. “And it all started with this bar mitzvah project.”

The frequent driving and around-the-clock care for the puppies in their first days may not be for everyone, but the work belies the tremendous impact these dogs have.

“Seven puppies times five litters is 35,” Milenbach said. “Potentially 35 people will have a companion for the rest of their lives, and it’s just nice to know that I can help someone who needs it.”

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Coroner confirms West Davis deaths were murder-suicide

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Special playground dedication slated

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1

     
    Police: Missing athlete died on freeway

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    French eye cockpit entry rules

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Bob Dunning: Wrap your head around our MRAP need

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

    Solo crash kills Woodland man, 22

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    Officials say Iran nuke talks will continue in new phase

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    ‘Old Autos’ at Hattie Weber Museum

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Davis tops list of best schools for the buck

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A4

     
    Lenten giving project highlights climate justice

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    DCCNS plans open house April 8

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Parent-child open house previews new Waldorf classes

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Summer garden alert!

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Davis FFA and ag students host plant sale

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

    Poker tourney benefits DMTC

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Camp Shakespeare begins Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Neighbors invited to adopt Willow Creek Park

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Yolo animal shelter seeks donations

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A5Comments are off for this post

    RSVP for Gerber Young Community Leader reception

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Pence Gallery recruiting volunteers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Move over, Muggles

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A5

     
    Tour de Cluck has selected its coops

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    CBH hosts Passover Community Potluck Seder

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    City extends nomination period for Huynh Awards

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Parenting class meets Tuesdays

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

    Meeting examines Northstar Pond priorities

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    Pets of the week

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    .

    Forum

    Maybe he loves the outdoors …

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Why can’t we be friends?

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    A California comeback for gerrymandering?

    By Tom Elias | From Page: A8

     
    César Chávez’s peaceful civil disobedience forged a great legacy

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

    A conversation about power

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Sports

    Over the years, The Show has been a reach for Davis

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    UC Davis opens hopeful spring football camp

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    A very palpable hit

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
     
    UCD roundup: Sleiffer seals Aggie tennis victory over Montana

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

    Grizzlies beat Kings to end three-game skid

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery

     
    Snubbed Temple, returning Stanford highlight NIT semis

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    30 years of dance in Davis with Pamela Trokanski

    By Chloe Lessard | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Dance the night away at house party

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    ‘A Year with Frog and Toad’ a delightful family show

    By Bev Sykes | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Mischief to play at Picnic in the Park

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Yolo Mambo will play at winery

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    Thursday Live! plans a blues party

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

    Jane Lynch performance rescheduled to August

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    Hear some April Fool’s night jazz

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Tuesday, March 31, 2015 (set 1)

    By Creator | From Page: B5

     
    Comics: Tuesday, March 31, 2015 (set 2)

    By Creator | From Page: B7