Meet the Team: Sian Evans (Breeding Assistant)

Posted 7 years ago in the Meet the team category

Get to know Breeding Assistant Sian as she answers questions about her role within the Puppy department.

Canine Partners’ breeding scheme was developed in order to ensure that we could get the types of dogs we need in the numbers that we need them, so that we can continue to transform the lives of people with disabilities. We are always eager to create even more amazing partnerships, and so the breeding scheme plays a vital role in our survival and growth.

Making sure our canine partner mums (broods) and their puppies are healthy and happy keeps breeding assistant Sian Evans on the road quite a lot. She will regularly visit our volunteer brood bitch holders at their homes, and support them in the all-important job of caring for mother and her litter, as the pups take their first tiny pawsteps towards changing lives.

Let’s hand it over to Sian to share what her role as breeding assistant at our midlands centre involves.

What is your job title and what are your responsibilities?

My job title is breeding assistant. The breeding department is responsible for establishing a top quality breeding programme, allowing us to stack things in our favour, increase our success rates and ultimately create more of these life-changing partnerships.

One of my responsibilities is assessing the potential canine partner mums to determine if they meet the high standard required. To be selected, she must have a fantastic temperament and has to pass strict health tests that include PennHIP which assesses the quality of the hips, a CT of the elbows to ensure quality, and a BVA (British Veterinary Association) eye test. We will also carry out various DNA tests.

As well as this, I supervise the process of checking that they remain fit and healthy, that their training is maintained and that their annual eye tests are kept up to date. Prior to mating season, I will also make sure a suitable stud dog is available.

The job certainly doesn’t stop there, as I will organise the necessary testing at the local vet, determining the best time to mate and will also take the brood for mating as well. Next, I will organise a pregnancy scan at the brood’s home to determine if the mating was successful. This is when I will also bring all of the equipment required for the litter so that everything is in place should the mating be a success.

For the first litter, I will be on hand to support with the whelping, and will visit the brood bitch holder’s home on a weekly basis to check up on the dogs and discuss how the pups are getting on.

At six weeks, they will be assessed to ensure they are in good health and ready to move on to the next stage of their journey when they turn seven weeks old. This is when the puppies will be taken to their puppy parents, who will then take over with caring and training the puppy for around a year before it goes on to one of our training centres for its advanced training.

Other duties include interviewing potential volunteers to take on a canine partner mum, as well as supporting puppy training and breeding manager Lyn Owen in building relationships with external breeders.

What is your experience in this area?

I have been in my role at Canine Partners for two years.

Previously I worked for Guide Dogs for the Blind at their National Breeding Centre for eight years. Most of this time was spent working within their dog care team, as well as providing maternity cover for the Brood Bitch Supervisor.

I also have a retired Guide Dog brood bitch, who has had several litters.

What is the most rewarding part of what you do?

I think that being there to support the brood when the puppies are delivered is one of the most magical experiences!

I have the opportunity to watch the puppies grow and develop, knowing that one day they are going to change someone’s life. Being there at the partnership day and seeing the difference those puppies have gone on to make makes me incredibly proud.

What is the biggest challenge in what you do?

The biggest challenge I have found is finding volunteers to take on a canine partner mum. However those that do take on the role get a fantastic dog and don’t even need to have any experience at all of having litters as all of the support is provided. I would encourage people to read more about becoming a brood bitch holder to see if they might be suitable.

What are your hobbies outside of work?

I have two Labradors at home and love to go out on long walks. I have also recently started agility training with my dogs.

What do you get up to on your days off work?

I go on plenty of long country walks and enjoy visiting family and friends.


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