Puppy raisers help socialize service dog hopefuls so they are prepared for their specialized training

By Kelli Bender
November 17, 2017 05:27 PM
Credit: Guide Dog Foundation/Rebecca Eden

No need to pinch yourself — this is reality. There are puppies out there that need you.

The Guide Dog Foundation is looking for puppy raisers to help the incoming classes of dogs gets socialized, so the canines are prepared to serve an individual with disabilities after completing training.

The puppy raising program is based up and down the East Coast and is open to those looking to help a little dog get a great start on an important life. As a puppy raiser, you take in a pup at 8 weeks old, when he or she is at peak fluffiness and heart-bursting cuteness, and care for the dog until they are between 14 to 18 months old. At this point, your puppy is ready to take the next step into the service world. After giving you months of smiles and snuggles, the dogs start their certified training program.

Credit: Guide Dog Foundation/Rebecca Eden

Your role as puppy raiser, if you chose to accept it, is to take your new best friend everywhere with you. It is important that service dogs are comfortable helping their humans in every kind of situation and surrounding, making early socialization extremely important. This means the Guide Dog Foundation doesn’t just want to give you a puppy, they want you to show it off: at the mall, restaurants, bus stops, vacations, parties, schools. Pretty much everywhere. The more socialized your puppy is, they less correction and training he or she will need later.

Credit: Guide Dog Foundation/Rebecca Eden

Along with playing the role of proud parent, the puppy raiser position also requires that you act as a teacher. Puppy raisers are expected to help their puppies learn basic obedience commands and ace bi-monthly classes at the Foundation.

Credit: Guide Dog Foundation/Rebecca Eden

Of course, the hardest part will be saying goodbye to your pup as he or she goes off to the training program. But this isn’t a true goodbye. The Guide Dog Foundation provides puppy raisers with monthly progress reports, and once the training program is complete, all the proud puppy parents are invited to the Guide Dog Foundation campus to match their furry student graduates and meet the people they will be helping for the rest of their lives. Often the person paired with the dog is so grateful for the gift, they make sure to keep puppy raisers updated on the positive ways their work has changed their world.

Credit: Guide Dog Foundation/Rebecca Eden

The Guide Dog Foundation loves repeat puppy raisers. So when you are done watching one pup grow, there is likely another eager, adorable student waiting for your guidance and affection.

If puppy raising sounds like a dream to you (and how could it not?), you can fill out an application with The Guide Dog Foundation. You will then be interviewed by a Puppy Department staff member. If you are accepted, you will receive not just a puppy, but all the supplies you need to care for him or her and the training you need to help the pooch thrive.

So really, what are you waiting for?