In August 2018, we sent out surveys to guide dog handlers, guide dog volunteers, guide dog staff, and other interested parties to get their feedback on what we should be focusing on. We shared some preliminary numbers and now, we would like to share on some of the actions which have been implemented since the survey.
Breeding Programme Review
We have engaged two external consultants from Guide Dogs New South Wales to conduct a complete review of our breeding programme. They will spend time at the Guide Dogs Centre assessing our current practices, capacity and infrastructure and then make recommendations to optimise our breeding programme.
International Working Dog Registry
We are in the process of importing pedigree, genetic and behavioural assessment information collected on our colony into the International Working Dog Registry (IWDR). The IWDR is an online database for working dogs, which allows us to calculate the estimated breeding value (EBV) of each of our dogs. An EBV is a statistical prediction of the genetic merit of dogs in our breeding programme. Combining our information with other organisations allows us greater accuracy to identify the best dogs to breed from based on the characteristics we want to see more, less, or the same of.
Behaviour Checklist Assessments
From November 2018 to February 2019, the Guide Dogs team have benefited from weekly online webinars taught by Jane Russenberger (Senior Director Breeding and Genetics, Guiding Eyes for the Blind). Jane lectures on how to use the Behaviour Checklist to consistently score aspects of canine behaviour, especially those traits essential for a working guide dog. The Behaviour Checklist will be used throughout all age points of a guide dog’s journey – from 7-week old pups through to dogs entering training.
Consolidated feedback from the survey will be available shortly. Get in touch with our Guide Dogs team for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org