Whelping center for assistance dogs welcomes first puppies

Can Do Canines, a nonprofit that raises and trains assistance dogs for people with disabilities, welcomed the first two litters […]

A yellow lab laying on the ground with her puppies around her.

Can Do Canines, a nonprofit that raises and trains assistance dogs for people with disabilities, welcomed the first two litters of puppies to be born at its new Whelping and Growth (WAG) Center in November. 

In August 2023, Can Do Canines purchased a property in New Germany—about 45 minutes southwest of its New Hope location. Can Do Canines bought this site, which is in addition to their current facility, to serve as a whelping center. Whelping is the process of a dog giving birth. The new WAG Center is where puppies born into Can Do Canines’ breeding program spend their first five to six weeks of life. 

A dog laying with their new puppies.

For several years, Can Do Canines volunteers had opened up their homes to care for these dogs. Whelping homes welcomed the expecting mom about ten days before her due date and continued the care through the first five to eight weeks of her puppies’ lives. The volunteers provided continuous care to the dog and pups, with Can Do Canines offering 24/7 support through the process. The organization opened this new center to help ease the burden on these volunteers by instead offering shifts at this new location, where the Can Do Canines breeding coordinator will office. 

The WAG Center’s first residents were moms-to-be, Sasha and Flurry, both yellow Labrador Retrievers. Sasha delivered seven Lab puppies (five yellow and two black) on November 6. Flurry followed closely behind, delivering eight Labs (four yellow and four black) on November 9. The puppies transitioned from the nursery wing to the toddler during their stay, receiving nurturing care from staff and volunteers. The next stop for these 15 puppies was each of the two prisons that Can Do Canines partners with for this service. Can Do Canines works with seven prisons throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. While inmates at five of these help raise and train the organization’s older dogs, litters of young puppies spend time at either Federal Prison Camp – Duluth or Chippewa Valley Correctional Institute. At these, select inmates work with these pups from ages 5 weeks to 10 weeks to wean them from their mom and help them establish independence. Soon, the puppies will join the household of one of Can Do Canines’ volunteers for further training before their eventual placement with a client with a disability. 

More information about Can Do Canines, its WAG Center, and its Prison Program can be found at Can Do Canines

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