In loving honor of our nephew, Cody, who I didn't get the chance to help with a therapy animal
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HEALING HEARTS THERAPY GOLDENS·
We are firm believers in being given gifts and purpose in this life. Our journey with these beautiful, intelligent and devoted dogs began back before we ever owned one. I began to think about using animals for therapy work around 20 years ago, when I was looking to find a way for my nephew, Cody, to use one of my horses for therapeutic riding. I thought that enabling him to walk, even if it wasn’t on his own legs, would be amazing for him - both physically and emotionally. Unfortunately, my plans never came to fruition as we lost Cody before I had a chance to train a horse for him.
As our own family grew, we moved back to Iowa; in the back of my mind, I still searched for a way to honor Cody’s life by helping others. I looked into requirements for developing my own therapeutic riding program, but there were just too many barriers in the way - it wasn't meant to be. It was so very impractical for the setup of our place, with hills surrounding our home in every direction and no handicap accessible route down the hill to our arena.
I was beginning to lose hope, until the day I met my first therapy dog. The dream was brought back to life. I felt this pull, like this was something I could (and should) do - I could train a dog for therapy work and bring comfort and happiness to others with them. I began what became an extensive search for the perfect dog to make my dream a reality. Over and over, golden retrievers kept popping up as ideal candidates for therapy and service work. Unfortunately, I also read many sad stories of goldens being taken too early due to cancer, which is what brought me to the discovery of the English or European type golden retriever that was thought to have less incidence of cancer ( I have since seen reports that the research study this was based on may not have been specifically designed to test this theory, so we focus on health and longevity in our lines, not color or country of origin!). I spent many months searching for the perfect bloodlines, temperament, health clearances, longevity, and the “look” or “type” that I wanted. And I found hope. Literally. I found a female puppy in Texas that was just what I was looking for. When she finally arrived, we fell in love with our girl, Hope. She was the perfect addition to our family, and even better than I had ever dreamed to train. She loves to work, loves to learn, loves to please her humans, and she loves every person she meets. We quickly advanced through obedience classes, obtained her Canine Good Citizen title, and reached our goal of being certified for therapy work. Hope is the cornerstone of our program, and we wish that everyone could have a dog just like her!
Along our journey with therapy dogs, I also researched dogs and their suitability for service work. I searched for service dog trainers to speak with and quickly realized that service dogs are 1) expensive! and 2) you may be waiting 2 years to get one that is fully trained! So, my next thought was, “What can I do to help with this situation?" There are so many people that need service dogs that aren't getting them. Again, I went back to comb through research regarding rescuing dogs from shelters versus breeding dogs specifically for service work. I found that only a small number of rescue dogs meet all of the necessary requirements (health, training, temperament, etc.) and have a lower graduation rate and longevity for the work than the purpose-bred dogs (see AKC’s article called “Why train purpose-bred service dogs instead of rescue dogs?” for more information). Additionally, there are a number of things that a breeder can do to increase the odds of puppies being able to tolerate the stress and intensity of service dog training. These techniques fascinated me! I felt that Hope was a truly great example of the breed, and with her intelligence, drive, and focus on people I knew that her offspring could potentially make wonderful service dogs. And so it began. I studied and studied for another 2 years to find out what I needed to do as a breeder to produce puppies with the best chance of being able to truly help people that need them. I also found a wonderful breeder/mentor along the way to help me. In our program, we utilize the complete Superstar Dog Program, including Biosensor (early neurological stimulation), noise habituation (noise CD’s), countless socialization experiences with people and animals, and early retrieval work. We also utilize Puppy Culture, ESI (early scent introduction) and training the basic commands; all of this starts as early as when the puppies are 3 days old. Our goal is to maximize intelligence, trainability, and adaptation to stress so that our dogs can lead long working lives, or long lives simply with their families. Our entire family is involved in the process, and we keep our operation small so that we can be totally hands-on with the puppies every day. We would love to help you out with one of our beautiful babies (and no, you don’t have to need a service dog to be matched with one of our puppies)!
Waiting list now full - please follow our Facebook page for any pups that might become available.
PUPPIES COMING Spring 2023 FROM SCARLETT AND Ozark (Arkgold golden retrievers)!! Breeding of Canine Good Citizen titled "Healing Hearts Devoted One" aka Scarlett to CCA, CA, DN "Arkgold Ozark Mountain Shindig in the Holler" aka Ozark- full OFA health clearances, genetic testing clear, and a wonderful disposition for therapy work!