There are so many things that play a role in the success of a guide dog. And yes, instructors play a huge part. However, they are not the only ones. Puppy raisers are vital to the success of a guide dog. I don’t know a lot about puppy raisers. We as dog guide owners are never given the name of the people that raised our dogs because of confidential reasons, but I know for a fact that, without them, we would not have the guide dogs we have today. But why is a puppy raiser so important to a guide dog owner?
First of all, the puppy raiser’s home is the place where the dogs learn the basic training skills. They are house trained and taught other behavioral skills. Puppy raisers teach them not to jump on the furniture or people, and they are taught to behave in public. Puppy raisers expose the dogs to social situations, helping them overcome any fear they may have of people. Also, a dog who gets excited when seeing people or other dogs will learn the appropriate behavior of a well-trained guide dog. It is important that a guide dog not be too timid around people. The dogs are treated like pets. They are loved and appreciated by the puppy raisers. But while this job may sound fun, it is very difficult.
The dogs stay with the puppy raisers for a year before leaving that home and going back to the school for guide dog training. For me, this would be extremely hard. Puppy raisers are forced to say goodbye to that lovable bundle of joy. It takes sacrifice on the part of those people who raise these dogs. So, why do they do it? Why would they want to put themselves through that?
Stories from Seeing Eye’s Guide Magazine describe it well. Many people who choose to raise guide dogs do it because it teaches them responsibility and discipline. One story in the magazine was actually a letter to the Seeing Eye, thanking the school for giving them the opportunity to raise a puppy. The person who wrote the letter was a young teenager who was obviously busy with school activities. Still, the student took the time to do all of the puppy raising activities such as attend the puppy raiser club meetings. Also, many of these puppy raisers don’t just raise one puppy. After giving that dog back, they are ready to take on the responsibility of another one. Imagine the many different puppies you might encounter, all of the different personalities you might notice. Some of these puppies are silly, others mellow, and yet, others are just little angels. Well, okay, they are all little angels. I, for one, appreciate these wonderful puppy raisers.
If you are a person assisting in training any type of service dog, please know that you are appreciated. You are making such a difference in the world around you. Schools who train dogs as guide dogs or other service dogs need people like you. So, let’s give a shout out to all of those wonderful people who sacrifice their time and money to raise an assistance dog. And, if you are someone who would like to get involved in puppy raising around Lincoln, places such as Domesti-Pups may have something for you to do. Other assistance dog schools in close proximity include Noah’s Dogs of Nebraska in Crete, Nebraska and KSDS Inc. Visit the following links to learn more information about these organizations and more.
To find out more about the puppy raisers at Seeing Eye, visit seeingeye.org and download the Guide Magazine.