Doggy Diaries – Love for Puppy Raisers

I’ve only dedicated one other post to puppy raisers and today I was thinking about them and decided to write another post about the group as a whole now that I have Jayden.

Yet again I’m kind of at a loss for words about how to start a post about these amazing people. These people who take a little bundle of fur and instantly love it. These people who shape our dogs into the amazing dogs we have, turning them into amazing companions, and then give them away. Give them away…after loving them so unconditionally and spending every waking moment with them, they give them away. Wow.

I think about all the things Jayden is subjected to. He has to live in a house with three cats. He doesn’t have a yard. He has to put up with B and me screaming at our games. He sleeps through thunder storms. He’s cool only working once a day because of this heat. Since he was exposed to malls when he was young, he doesn’t mind being stuck in them. He’s content to sleep at my feet or on the couch, but only in his designated spot. He lets me touch him all over, even his feet, so I can keep an eye on him. He deals with noisy traffic. He ignores other animals. Even lizards, which he didn’t grow up with. He ignores other people when they try and tell him what to do. He waits patiently for his food. He lays down patiently for two hours at the gym. He holds his bladder for insane amounts of time sometimes haha. He does his business when I ask him to so I know we’ll be ok when we leave.

These are all things his raiser taught him. Would he have been so patient if she hadn’t taken him with her to high school when he was just a young guy? Would he be ok with all the cheering in the apartment if she hadn’t taken him to softball games? Would he be so chill around the cats if he hadn’t grown up with one? Would he be so gentle wih children if he hadn’t been raised with them?

I’m so grateful he started doing all these things when he was so young. Just like humans, he soaked everything up during his young months. If he hadn’t learned to be patient while his raiser was in class, would he lay so calmly for me at the gym?

He never ever counter surfs. He never goes after the cat food. He predicts what I want with obedience so much that I have to constantly switch it up haha. He stays on his bed all night.

All that, all of it, was in his raising. He never knew any different.

Puppy raisers have the joy of having their dogs with them all the time. But they run into more barriers than we do as guide dog handlers. They get the questions like why do you need a service dog? They are the ones who are huge ambassadors for all service dogs. They answer all the tough questions. They do the fundraising. They sit at tables in Macy’s and educate the public. They help us before we even walk with their dog for the first time. All those people they educate are fewer people who will interrupt us when we’re working.

They have puppy meetings they must attend. They have to pass a screening and wait not so patiently to find out if they can raise. They wait with baited breath for the puppy truck to arrive. A year later, they wait to return their puppy to the truck and they may never see their dog again.

They do this all for no pay.

They adhere to strict rules set in place by whichever school they raise for. They do it all so we as people who are blind or visually impaired, can have a better quality of life. They don’t worry about the fact that we have a disability. They don’t think about whether we’re capable enough to love and care for their pup. They are simply amazing people.

To me, Jayden will always be his raiser’s dog. He’s mine for right now, but he will always be hers. That sweet girl who decided to raise puppy’s and received Jayden as her first charge, after proving that she was fit as a raiser. She loved him and made him the amazing dog he is today and he became my first guide dog. He will always be hers. In my heart, we’re sharing custody hehe.

We don’t communicate often. She’s on her second puppy now. She’s attending college now. I hope we always stay in touch, though. She never knew how much she would affect my life. A girl I spent two hours with at graduation, has completely changed my life by raising such an amazing dog.

I can’t speak enough words about puppy raisers. Each and every one of you are amazing. Whether you’re raising your first or you’re fifteenth, you are amazing. How can I ever thank you all for the amazing thing you are doing?

So on a day where you’re frustrated, or on the days approaching your dog’s recall, think about how grateful we are. We may not all say it enough, but I can’t think of another handler from a school who doesn’t love you just as much as I do.

Thank you, puppy raisers!

(I wonder how many times I wrote ‘amazing’ haha!)


Filed under Doggy Diaries, gratitude, Jayden, misty eyes, puppy raisers, working dog

12 Responses to Doggy Diaries – Love for Puppy Raisers

  1. Amazing post for an amazing group of people. That like you, don’t know how to begin to say thank you enough. You expressed the gratitude I feel so well. Thank you to each of them.

  2. OK Ro, I am going to have to disagree with you on this one! We DO get paid! I get paid in puppy kisses and tail wags. I get paid with the 68.7 pounds of body wags that bumps around my knees after even a short separation. I get paid in those moments when I see my puppy “get it” with something we have been working on. Or when he shows amazing maturity in a tough situation.

    As a leader, I get paid when the “kids” in my group improve their skills and help their pups mature into fabulous young dogs. I get paid seeing them enjoy our puppy meetings and enjoy each other (something I have worked hard on in my group getting the kids to enjoy being together). I get paid when I get to call a new family and tell them a puppy is waiting for them. Or when I call to tell them that their dog is in class.

    And all of that payment comes before you are ever in the picture! I get paid at graduation when my dog remembers me and goes nuts. Then, I get paid by meeting the handler and finding out how their relationship with the dog has already developed. I get paid watching that dog guide the person.

    And, I get paid throughout the life of the partnership when I hear about how my dog is doing. (I agree with you there – I share possession with the grads. As much as the dogs ‘belong’ to the grad, a part of them always lives in me). It’s like hitting a jackpot of payment if I get to see my dog as a working guide later in their career. It’s an even bigger jackpot of payment when they still remember me and lose their composure over seeing me. I get paid when they dog hesitate to walk away from me and go home with their partner without looking back at me.

    It may not be “payment” as you meant it, but its more important to “pay” our hearts than our checkbooks sometimes.

    Thanks for loving Jayden as any raiser would love him and for sharing him with us.

  3. Haha I like what you said Cassie – that is exactly how I feel.. however mine is 54 pounds lol.

    Thanks Ro – you’re awesome too. Sorry so short but there’s no way I can follow Cassie’s post hahaha.

  4. I have to agree with Cassie…it may not be money we are paid in, but we are paid in ways that matter so much more. Nothing better than seeing your dog go on to be that special dog for someone else. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

  5. Err – Let me edit that last part to say: “I get paid when they DO NOT hesitate to walk away from me and go home with their partner without looking back at me.”

    There. That’s better 🙂

  6. Cassie said it all.
    What she said brought tears to my eyes.
    We are raising our second puppy.
    He is a wonderful loving, smart little
    dog that I believe will make it to be
    someones eyes.
    They do give us so much.
    Dublin has helped me, I to am disabled, in a different way, I had a brain tumor and raising Dublin has given me a reason to get out to socialize him and go to puppy meetings and outings, etc., and not sit in the house feeling sorry for myself.
    I will always remember him for that. Our first puppy, Luxor, our daughter raised for her High School Senior project, and Luxor introduced us to these wonderful dogs. He even visited me in the hospital when I had my surgery, and everyone loved seeing him there!
    I decided to raise another one after the great experience we had with Luxor. Luxor is a working Guide in St. Paul, Mn. now. Dublin has been just as rewarding as raising Luxor was. More so for me, because I am his primary raiser.
    I will miss him, a lot, when he goes back to GDB for training in Oct. I will give him back with tears and a smile, that he has the confidence to take him into training and be successful.
    So he can go to someone like you, that will cherish and NEED him, much more that I need him. These dogs are born with a special life in the planning. Soon we will get another puppy, probably in the Spring, and love him and socialize him and hopefully have another one be successful.
    Thank you , for the thank you, LOL, I so enjoy seeing how you have learned to become a partner with Jaydon. You give me more reasons to keep raising these wonderful dogs.

  7. Ro, you summed it up better than I could have ever tried to, especially tonight. Thanks to all you puppy raisers, you guys are awesome. Cassie, your comment made me want to cry. That was so sweet. I could only hope that wherever Leah’s puppy raisers are that they will always know she is well taken of and spoiled beyond belief and we wouldn’t have it any other way. I couldn’t imagine my life without this four legged little angel in a devil costume in my life. I love her sooo much and its because of awesome guys like ya’ll that it happens. Sending lots of human and puppy love from Texas,
    Amanda and Leah “The Princess”

  8. Jen

    Well said Ro. Meeting OJ’s raisers was an amazing experience for all of us, and I’m glad they keep in touch.

  9. Thanks for the post – you had perfect timing as my little girl Beauty started formal training this week and I’m missing her lots (though hoping she does well and gets matched with an awesome person of course). Echoing Cassie and all the other puppy raiser comments, I get so much more out of this experience than I could ever hope to put into it.

  10. I had the worst day today… thanks for posting this. It made my day so much better.

  11. This is such a touching post. Thank you for posting it, I was having one of those days where I wonder, why I am doing this? Thanks for the reminder of the wonderful things my pain-in-the-butt Jojo will grow up to do! But really, she is a great puppy and I love her to death! 🙂

  12. Wow. I ran across this post three days before Reyna’s recall. We bring her back this Sunday, and she is going to Oregon 🙁 Your post actually made me cry, but it also gave me strength that I will need on Sunday. Most guide dog users don’t think about our side of things like that, and you are a very special person to be so aware of what we go through. I am very lucky that I have an extremely close relationship with Wendy’s handler. I wish every puppy raiser could experience what I have with Glenda and Wendy. I get to see them together every week and it is amazing. But Ro, I really feel that people like you and Glenda are the ones who are amazing 🙂 Thank you so much for this post!

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