The Working Dog Center was founded in 2007, but the seeds of Dr. Cindy Otto’s vision were planted much earlier.
Dr. Otto deployed with Pennsylvania Task Force One to Ground Zero, where she monitored the Search and Rescue dogs who were working at the World Trade Center. Her job was “strictly to take care of the dogs”. Not only those associated with the Pennsylvania team, but any of the other search dogs or animals that needed assistance.
After returning from Ground Zero, Dr. Otto, with a grant provided by the AKC Canine Health Foundation, initiated the only longitudinal study to follow the effects of the deployment to the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Staten Island Landfill on the Search & Rescue dogs’ immediate and long-term health and behavior. At this time, we are still actively following 2 deployed dogs and 2 control dogs.
Read more about the 9/11 Medical Surveillance Study HERE.
It wasn’t until 2007, that Dr. Otto’s full vision came to fruition and the Working Dog Center was officially formed. In 2012, the Working Dog Center opened its training center on the South Bank Campus at the University of Pennsylvania.
At the Working Dog Center, we continue to conduct research and train a variety of detection dogs including Search & Rescue. We honor the legacy of the 9/11 search dogs who deployed and participated in our 9/11 study by naming our puppies after them. It’s a way that we keep our history in mind, while we look to grow our family.
View our 9/11 Search Dog Memorial HERE.
We got an update from the Darlings, our whelping fosters, on what the puppies have been up to.
All nine have developed a distinct personality and each has their own quirks and attributes.
As they’ve grown over their first month of life, they’ve all developed a playful attitude.
They’ve been playing tug with anything they can—chew toys, leather toys, cat toys, towels—and are chasing each other all over the place. They’ve also discovered the joys of a kiddie pool on a hot summer day, and frequently jump in to it off of a small ramp that Eric constructed.
In addition, we’ve been helping the puppies get used to different surfaces and heights. Since they’re so young, we’ve put them on small planks that are about 3 inches off the ground—they’ve been doing well with that so far!
As always, you can check out our puppy photo gallery here: http://pennvetwdc.org/2014/annoucements/our-first-litter-2/
After advancing to the semifinals, she’s emerged as the winner of the Search and Rescue category, and is now in the finals for overall Hero Dog!
The last round of voting extends from now until 12:00pm on September 15th. We need all the help we can get, so be sure to vote every day. Since her handler chose the WDC as her charity partner, we’ll receive a $5,000 donation in Bretagne’s honor if she wins.
Currently we have 18 dogs at the center, and a litter of 9 puppies getting ready to join our Puppy Foundation Program this fall. The training and care of each dog is very expensive—about $35,000 per year per dog—so a donation from Bretagne would greatly benefit our program. So get ready and get voting!
While the benefit of a warm-up routine on human athletes has been documented, this study will scientifically evaluate the benefit of a warm-up routine for dogs.
This study is being conducted in partnership with GAIT4Dog®, a division of CIR Systems, and is using their 16’ GAITFour® Walkway.
This devise is a “pressure sensitive portable walkway measurement system designed to capture and analyze gait data from quadrupeds.”
In this study, each dog in training at the WDC is trotted across the walkway for 10 minutes then put into their crate for 30 minutes of rest. This gives researchers a baseline reading of each dog’s gait. They are then trotted across the mat again for another 10 minutes and subsequently put back into their crate again for another 30 minutes. This provides a consistent 30 minute resting gait analysis.
Following these initial measurements, one group will come out of their crate and go through a 5 minute warm-up routine consisting of specific stretching exercises; this group will then do 10 minutes of agility work. The other experimental group will come out of their crate and go directly to 10 minutes of agility work without a warm-up. Both groups will be trotted for 10 minutes on the GAITFour® Walkway after performing their 10 minutes of agility to obtain their post-work gait analysis.
The walkway is able to sense the dog’s distribution of weight on each foot and tracks the motion of their feet with every step. The measurements will be compared to the Total Pressure Index metric, which is currently used to understand canine gait. It states that dogs put 60% of their body weight on their front feet, and 40% on their back feet. There is however likely variances by breed and currently there is not any data on the subject; that’s part of what we’re looking to determine in this study.
We will also be evaluating other measurements, including step length (how far one leg travels in front of the opposite leg) and stride length (how far one leg travels). The differences in the ratio can help us determine abnormalities.
We will continue to provide updates on this project and look forward to sharing results as they become available.
Check out other research products being conducted at the Center HERE.
With their teeth starting to come in, the puppies had their first solid food.
They loved it, but soon fell into the most adorable food coma you’ll ever see.
The puppies have also been exposed to a variety of new experiences and environments. It started last week, when they caught some World Cup Fever. We gave them little soccer balls to play with, and while they didn’t really understand the concept of the soccer, they really enjoyed trying to chew on their fuzzy soccer balls.
Since our puppies have also grown a lot in size in their first month, we also opened their whelping box to let them spread their legs a bit. They even went outside for the first time, which has extended into short outside play sessions. We’ve attached pictures of their escapades in our photo gallery.
They’re still growing and developing as we expect puppies to, but over the next week our whelping fosters, Eric & Tracy Darling, will introduce them to new scents, sounds, and textures to help get them started on the path to being successful working dogs!]]>