People.com Lifestyle Pets This Guide Dog Organization Has Plenty of Adorable Puppies and Wants Your Help Raising Them Southeastern Guide Dogs is looking for volunteer puppy raisers to help the organization socialize and train future service dogs By Kelli Bender Kelli Bender Kelli Bender is the Pets Editor for PEOPLE Digital and PEOPLE magazine. She has been with the PEOPLE brand for more than eight years, working as a writer/producer across PEOPLE's Lifestyle, Features, and Entertainment verticals before taking on her current role. Kelli is also an editor on PEOPLE's Stories to Make You Smile and serves as an editorial lead on PEOPLE's World's Cutest Rescue Dog Contest and Pet Product Awards. Before joining PEOPLE, Kelli helped AOL and Whalerock launch a pet lifestyle site called PawNation. She is a pet parent to a cat named Wallace, and her professional and personal devotion to animals has taken her to three dog weddings ... so far. People Editorial Guidelines Published on November 19, 2020 04:34 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Southeastern Guide Dogs Pet adoptions and pet fostering have increased throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, causing many others to consider getting a pet for the first time. If you are one of many animal lovers considering getting a puppy, there is an adorable volunteer opportunity waiting for you. Southeastern Guide Dogs, a nonprofit dedicated to breeding, training, and placing guide and service dogs free of charge, is looking for volunteer puppy raisers. The opportunity is as dreamy as it sounds. Southeastern puppy raisers are given one of the organization's precious pups — when the little dog is around 10 weeks old — to raise in their own homes until the pooch is 12 to 16 months old. During their time together, the puppy raiser helps their pup learn basic obedience commands, socializes the dog with other canines and people, and introduces the service-dog-to-be to as many new experiences as possible. This puppy-raising period is vital to a future service dog's success. It helps the puppy become comfortable will new situations, which they will encounter constantly while working as a service animal, and ensures they are familiar with the home setting before placement. Southeastern Guide Dogs George H. W. Bush's Former Service Dog Sully Gets His Own Statue in Honor of Veteran's Day Once the puppy is older, they are brought back to a Southeastern campus where they go through specially-designed training to prepare them for the specific tasks they will need to master before being placed with their human. It's a win-win for all! Puppy raisers spend quality time with adorable baby dogs and help improve the lives of the individuals who depend on service dogs for a renewed sense of independence, and the dogs get oodles of love and adventure along with the foundation they need to be excellent service dogs. Southeastern is in need of puppy raisers right now. No experience with dogs is necessary to become a puppy raiser, because Southeastern provides all their volunteers with a support team and tools to help with the process. Southeastern also pays for the puppy's medical expenses — raisers just cover the cost of food, approved toys, and supplies. Southeastern Guide Dogs Paralyzed 6-Year-Old Meets Her Future Golden Retriever Service Dog and Bonds with Pup Instantly Puppy raisers need to be over 18 and committed to helping a puppy grow into the best service dog it can be. Current puppy raiser groups are located in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas — and additional locations are being added throughout the Midwest. To learn more about this enchanting volunteer opportunity and about Southeastern Guide Dog's important work, visit the organization's website.