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Dublin was quite the helper when he would come into the office with me, but part boxer? I don’t think so…Dublin was/is a purebred yellow Labrador Retriever bred at Guide Dogs of America.
Today Dublin is a working guide dog and we chronicled his entire journey in our Puppy In Training TV series.
If you have a moment take a look at Dublin’s videos as we tell his story from picking him up as a 7 week old puppy to guide dog graduation to visiting and watching him as a working guide dog.
This Puppy Is…Part Boxer!
I love that picture! Dublin helping out in the warehouse. If he didn’t continue on to his career as a guide dog maybe he could have worked the shipping department at Ascolta I’m sure they would have loved having Dublin as a permanent worker back there!
By the way, if you are interested in raising and training a guide dog puppy please feel free to contact me through our contact form and I can send you some details on how we started our journey as puppy raisers.
Just to let you know raising and training guide dog puppies has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life so if you’re a puppy or dog lover then please do yourself a favor and check your area for local service and guide dog schools that might offer puppy raising opportunities.
No, this is not a competition, but it is something that has been weighing on my mind…should I continue being a Guide Dog Puppy Raiser or should I move to a different organization/school and volunteer as a Service Dog Puppy Raiser?
Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to talk to many of the different non-profit animal organizations out there. Most of you already know that I’ve been a long time volunteer puppy raiser for Guide Dogs of America (GDA). However, more recently I’ve been interested in branching out and learning more about some of the other wonderful assistance dog organizations.
Where Should I Volunteer My Time?
Toby, GDA Puppy In Training
While working for the technical education company, Ascolta I learned the importance of volunteering time to my community and found how rewarding it can be to help others in need. Before I started volunteering with Guide Dogs of America I involved myself in the community as a foster parent for Cuddly Canines Rescue and also volunteered for Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, and Working Wardrobes.
While I enjoyed helping all of these organizations I truly love working with puppies and dogs while also helping people.
I did consider for a short while going back to fostering (this may be something I do again in the future), but I’ve always enjoyed the long term commitment of training a puppy from 8 week old puppies to 18 month old young adults. Not only the training, but the fact that you get to train a puppy to help another human being makes the adventure all the more rewarding.
So why not continue as a Guide Dog Puppy Raiser? Honestly, I love raising for GDA! I love my local Orange County GDA group! I love the volunteers, staff, guide dog teams, and all people involved with the organization. However, I wanted to do a little more:
- I wanted to learn more about all kinds of assistance dogs.
- I wanted to learn how to teach more commands/cues.
- I wanted to work on more advanced training.
- I wanted the opportunity to work with not only the puppies in training, but also the clients.
Unfortunately, these things would not happen at Guide Dogs of America. I still plan on helping GDA whenever possible, but instead of continuing as a Guide Dog Puppy Raiser I wanted to try volunteering as a Service Dog Puppy Raiser.
Assistance Dog Organizations
Before I became a GDA Puppy Raiser I researched and applied to several other Guide and Service Dog organizations in southern California. I actually sent my application to these schools back in 2006:
- Guide Dogs of America (GDA) – I currently meet with the Orange County group in Irvine, CA
- Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) – I met with the Mission Viejo, CA group several times.
- Guide Dogs of the Desert (GDD) – I sent my application and emailed them several times, but never heard back.
- Canine Companions For Independence (CCI) – I sent my application, spoke to the puppy manager and a couple trainers, I also attended their graduation in Oceanside, CA
That was the process back in 2006 and as you know I ended up a puppy raiser for GDA. So far I’ve raised 4 puppies for Guide Dogs of America and puppy sat dozens (maybe even in the 100′s) of puppies for GDA.
Shortly after turning Apache (my 4th GDA pup) in for formal training I decided I wanted to raise a service dog puppy in training instead of a guide dog. I immediately started researching schools. Here’s a list of schools I contacted:
- Canine Support Teams (CST) – Located in Temucla, CA. About 1 month after I turned in Apache he was career changed and began Advanced Training with CST. I had heard of CST ever since I raised my first puppy, Stetson and learned more as Apache went through the program. I applied to the school and attended several of their outings. Apache eventually graduated from CST in April 2012.
- Tender Loving Canine Assistance Dogs (TLCAD) - Located in San Diego, CA. I applied to the school and attended a couple events. I also went though their training program and learned some new things about training and assistance dogs. I wrote a separate blog post on TLCAD here.
- Little Angeles Service Dogs – Also located in San Diego, CA. I applied to TLCAD and attended an interview to become a volunteer trainer. They never contacted me back after the interview even after I followed up. I guess I flopped the interview
- Canine Companions For Indepedence (CCI) - Located in Oceanside, CA. They still had my application on file and told me to contact them anytime I was ready to raise a puppy. They also offered their training classes in Irvine which was nice, but I never made contact with CCI this second time around.
As you can see I take these things seriously and it took me nearly a year to decide on which program would work best for me. In the end I was very torn between not only two of these great Service Dog schools, but I was also still committed to and considering raising another GDA pup, but in the end I decided…
Why I Decided To Raise A Puppy For Canine Support Teams (CST)?
Adelle, CST Puppy In Training
There were two organizations that stood out for me: Tender Loving Canine Assistance Dogs and Canine Support Teams. I was seriously back and forth on my decision from one day to the next, but it really came down to one key point: There are 4 (possibly more) other CST puppy raisers living in Orange County.
Why does this make a difference? In general these schools are very picky about who can watch your puppy. Most schools allow other puppy raisers to puppy sit, but other people not known to the school are usually not allowed to puppy sit. Having 4 puppy raisers close by means I don’t have to drive as far to get a puppy sitter. This is very important when you need a puppy sitter for a few hours or just a day or two.
In the end I feel very lucky that I have the opportunity to work with any one of these great organizations. The fact that I have a choice is all the sweeter.
How about you guys? Do you volunteer for a non-profit organization? If so, tell us a little about the organization and what you do as a volunteer. We love learning about all the great volunteer opportunities out there!
Over the last 7 years I’ve been raising guide dog puppies for Guide Dogs of America (GDA) and recently I’ve been thinking about raising and training for another organization. Don’t get me wrong I love being a puppy raiser for GDA, but I’m very interested in learning new things while continuing to help one of the many great assistance dog organizations out there.
Over the past few months I’ve been attending outings and training classes with Tender Loving Canine Assistance Dogs (TLCAD). They are a wonderful organization located about an hour south of me in San Diego.
Tender Loving Canine Assistance Dogs (TLCAD)
TLCAD Labrador Retriever In Training
We transform lives with service dogs.
In order to achieve this mission, Tender Loving Canines Assistance Dogs, Inc. (TLCAD):
- Understands the benefits of placing dogs whose natural disposition and unique talents match a client’s personality and individual needs.
- Knows that in order to ensure long term success for both dog and client, the training begins as early as possible and endures throughout the working life of the dog.
The results of this mission can be witnessed in:
- Individuals with a special need, a challenge or a disability actively participating in and contributing to the world around them.
- Setting the standard for a professional, dependable and happy working dog.
- Increasing awareness and public education of disabilities and Assistance Dogs.
Me And TLCAD
As I mentioned I had the opportunity to participate in many TLCAD activities including several outings as well as attending their dog sitter workshop and their 8 week trainer course. I must say they have wonderful people working at this organization!
TLCAD Labradoodle In Training
However, there was really one main point that was keeping me from working as a volunteer trainer for TLCAD…
They are located in San Diego which is actually slightly closer then Sylmar, CA (GDA Main Campus), but the big difference is there are no other trainers near me (I live in Orange County about 1 hour north of San Diego). GDA has a dedicated Orange County group which consists of 50+ puppy raisers. I’ve found it very important to have this support group not only for bouncing questions off veteran raisers, but because it gives you options for puppy sitters.
The Importance Of Puppy Sitters
As a guide dog puppy raiser I’ve learned that it’s invaluable to have a puppy sitter nearby. It seems to come up quite often that spur of the moment I need a puppy sitter for just a few hours or a day. A perfect example is a wedding. I have several to go to this summer. Weddings only last a few hours and it’s an event I normally won’t take a puppy in training to unless I know the couple very well. I would only need a puppy sitter for a few hours and having one within 5-10 minutes of me is oh so convenient.
I know it’s a luxury having puppy sitters nearby, but it’s something I have considered before deciding to raise and train a puppy for a different organization. While you may not have this same option when choosing to volunteer as a puppy trainer/raiser it’s definitely something to consider if you have the option.
Even if you’re just planning on getting a puppy or dog as a family pet make sure you think about what you will do with your dog or puppy when you are away. Where will you take your puppy when going on vacation? Do you have a support group of pet friendly friends who are willing to puppy sit?
Thank You TLCAD For What You Do!
Tender Loving Canine Assistance Dogs (TLCAD) is a wonderful organization! I hope that I will get the chance to work with one of their puppies sometime in the future. If you are interested in volunteering with TLCAD then visit their website for more information.
Whether it’s a Guide Dog organization, Service Dog organization, Animal Shelter, or any other non-profit what kind of things did you consider before volunteering with your organization? Tell us about it in the comment section below.
It wasn’t that long ago that I was asked the question in today’s blog post title when I walked up to the Guide Dogs of America (GDA) booth at the America’s Family Pet Expo. This past weekend I was asking pet lovers at the Pet Expo the very same question while working with Tasha (a guide dog puppy in training) at the GDA booth: “Are you interested in raising a puppy for Guide Dogs of America?”
By the way, the Pet Expo was packed this past weekend with thousands of people and we came away with possibly a few new puppy raisers
Bro and Sis? BFF’s? Guide Pups?
Who are those pups pictured above? That’s Tucker and Treacle! Brother and sister from the “T” litter (read more about the GDA rules for naming a puppy). Guide Dog Puppies In Training! These two are currently in formal guide dog training and hopefully will be graduating soon from Guide Dog College. This picture is from our outing to the Sawdust Festival in Laguna Beach, CA.
What Does A Puppy Raiser Do?
So what happens at the Guide Dogs of America booth? We try to recruit new puppy raisers and the Pet Expo filled with thousands of Pet Lovers is the perfect venue. While our time is sometimes short with each prospective puppy raiser here are a few things I like to say and do when working the booth:
- First, bring an adorable Puppy In Training to draw in the crowd. I had Tasha an 11 month old gorgeous female Labrador Retriever working by my side. the Pet Expo is full of excitement and distractions so we only bring the older puppies as they can handle the stress better than the little ones.
- After you draw in the prospective puppy raisers lead with the question “Are you interested in raising a puppy?“
- Then I usually give them the basic run down of what puppy raising entails…
- GDA provides you with an approximately 7 week old puppy.
- You keep the puppy with you from 7 weeks until about 18 months of age.
- During that time you work with them on basic obedience, good house manners, and socialization.
- Most pet lovers are intrigued by puppy socialization aspect of puppy raising and love to hear how puppy raisers take their pups to shopping malls, grocery stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and most places many pet dogs can not attend.
- At 18 months you return the puppy to the school where they begin their formal guide dog training.
- After about 6 months of formal training your puppy gets matched with a visually impaired or blind partner.
- After approximately 1 more month of training with their new partner you puppy graduates and begins his life as a guide dog team.
- The most common response: “I could never give up my puppy after 18 months…“
- My answer: “I understand, but once you see your puppy graduate and give his partner a new life of independence it’s all worth it.” –Cue tears from my eyes…
That’s a very brief summary, but in reality there are so many more benefits to being a puppy raiser. It is a large commitment, but you will receive so much more in return. That is why I’ve raised 4 puppies and plan on raising more. That’s why when you talk to many other puppy raisers they’ve raised 5, 10, 20 puppies over the past few decades.
If you’re interested in puppy raising leave me a comment or shoot me an email though our contact form.
How about you guys? Are you already raising a puppy? If so tell us a little bit about some of your experiences and the benefits you find raising a puppy. If not, what’s holding you back from starting your journey as a puppy raiser.
As a guide dog puppy sitter and raiser I face the same and new challenges with each puppy. I’m constantly reminded of lessons and puppy training tips I learned over the years.
Ever since we dropped Apache off at Guide Dog College to start his “formal” education Linus, Stetson, and I feel like we’ve been non-stop puppy sitters. If only it was a paying gig we’d be rich!!!
We like volunteering our time to help out the community. In the past we used to volunteer with several non-profit organizations including Habitat For Humanity, Working Wardrobes, and the Special Olympics. More recently we decided we wanted to help dogs/puppies and began fostering homeless dogs and pups for one of our local animal rescues.
Puppy Sitter For Guide Dogs of America
That brings us to our current volunteer activity as guide dog puppy raisers. We love being puppy raisers! We get the opportunity to bring home future guide dog pups at around 7 weeks of age and train them in basic obedience, socialization, and good house manners until they are approximately 18 months old.
Yes, it is difficult to give them up after putting so much time, effort, and love into them, but it’s all worth it knowing that our pups will move on to help a visually impaired person regain their independence.
That brings us to the past weeks assignment as guide dog puppy sitters:
#1 Tasha – A 4 Month Old Yellow Labrador Retriever
Last Tuesday we helped puppy sit little Tasha at our group meeting. Tasha was a little bit restless and anxious at the meeting. So we worked with Tasha so her handler could have a little break and discuss our puppy raiser manual with some of our other puppy raisers. At 4 months old Tasha is very mouthy as her adult teeth are coming in.
Tasha getting tubed at Puppy Kindergarten…Brea watches…
PUPPY TRAINING TIP #1: If you have a mouthy puppy make sure you get lots of different textured dog toys including KONG’s, pressed rawhides, plush toys, nylabones, etc. When your pup bites down on your hand slowly remove your hand and replace with one of the toys and let them chew on the toy rather than your body part.
A second thing that you can try is using Bitter Apple Spray. Spray a little bit on your hand and let your puppy put his mouth on your hand. Most pups really don’t like the taste of the Bitter Apple Spray and will eventually learn not to bite your hands.
#2 Treacle – A 13 Month Old Black Labrador Retriever
Next up was Treacle! Treacle had a 2 day stay with us so she could work on mingling with other dogs (Stetson and Linus). She did great and had a little bit of play time with her new buddy Linus. We also took a nice long walk on the golf course, went to lunch together, and finally got to watch an awesome roller hockey game! Go Team NDENSUM!
Treacle was very good with our dogs and played like a lady. However, we have heard she sometimes isn’t so lady-like and can be very rough during her play time. So we initially introduced her to Linus and Stetson on leash, but soon found out she did just as well interacting with the boys off leash.
Treacle, guide dog pup and golfer!
PUPPY TRAINING TIP #2: Does your puppy play too rough with your older dog? Try keeping your puppy on leash when he is interacting with your older dog that way you can better control any inappropriate behavior.
#3 Sable – A 15 Month Old German Shepherd Dog
Finally, the past 2 days we watched Sable. There are very few German Shepherd Dogs in our guide dog program so we felt very lucky that we had the opportunity to watch Sable. German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers are very different breeds. Lucky for us we had lots of experience with German Shepherds when we were fostering puppies.
Sable was a very good girl, but the only real problem we had was having her “get busy”. She refused to potty! It took her nearly 24 hours before she agreed to make #1 and #2 while she was in our care. It was very reminiscent of when we took Linus camping. He would not potty in the dirt (he was used to going on the grass). Again it took over 24 hours to finally get him to potty on the dirt.
Sable giving us a nice down-stay with the little head tilt…
PUPPY TRAINING TIP #3: Make sure you train your puppy to potty on all different surfaces. You never know when you’ll want him to go potty somewhere other than the grass. Guide dogs travel everywhere with their handlers and need to potty on command anytime, anywhere so we train our guide dog puppies to go on cement, grass, rocks, dirt, etc.
So those were our puppy sitting assignments for the week! As you can see there was some mischief going on with the pups. Did your dogs get into any mischief this week? What lessons did you learn from their mischievous behavior?
Last week Apache went back to school to start his formal guide dog training. It’s both a happy and sad day. Happy because he gets to start the next leg in his journey to becoming a guide dog and sad because I will miss having him by my side every day. However, there are always 2 questions I get asked when I bring my puppy back to school:
- When would you like to get another puppy?
- Are you interested in puppy sitting?
Actually question #1 usually gets asked before turn in, during turn in, and after turn in. Why not? Who could resist an adorable little puppy? Like I said last week…on our way out we stopped by the nursery to see the adorable puppies…
WARNING: ADORABLE PUPPY PICTURES COMING UP PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK!
I’m a little black Labrador Retriever Golden Retriever Cross Puppy
Who could resist that face? Well, apparently me because when the GDA Puppy Department asked me: “When would you like to get another puppy?” My answer was that I’d like to take a little break from puppy raising.
However, I had no problem answering yes when I was asked: ”Are you interested in puppy sitting?” It’s been less than a week since Apache was turned in to the school and already I’ve agreed to 2 puppy sitting assignments.
The good news about this past weeks puppy sitting assignment…lots of puppy pics to share! We post most of our puppy pics to our Facebook page so make sure you “like” our Facebook page.
I like puppy sitting guide dog pups because it’s like puppy raising, but it’s usually a short term assignment anywhere from 1 day to maybe a couple weeks. It gives you a chance to work on the same puppy obedience training, socialization, house manners that you do with your own guide dog puppy in training.
We’ve been puppy sitting an 8 week old yellow Labrador Retriever named Toby who’s the cutest most adorable puppy in the world! Actually, I’ll let you decide. Take a look at some of his pics:
Toby loves playing with his doggy toys!
Yep, that’s Toby! He even has a little smile on his face in that picture. Irresistible! Toby is learning that he can’t harass Stetson and Linus all day and sometimes he needs to just play by himself with his toys.
Cradling Toby the bat!
In honor of the release of the latest Batman movie: The Dark Knight Rises, Toby is doing his best Batman impersonation!
Honestly, we’re just teaching Toby to be calm while he’s cradled. It’s important for us to teach our puppy to be cradled and handled. A blind person will need to be able to run their hands all over their guide dog in order to check for any health problems. We practice with our puppy on his back between our legs feeling his tail, ears, face, legs, paws, and chest. Sometimes it takes a little while to get a puppy used to being cradled and handled so we make sure and work on this with all of our pups.
Toby got a new doggy toy today…
It’s good to have lots of different textured dog toys for your puppy. Okay, so maybe this is an extreme example, but just in case you didn’t notice puppy’s like to chew. That is why I recommend many different textured toys (KONG, Nylabone, Plush toys, etc.) because once your puppy gets bored with one type of textured dog toy you can swap it out for a completely different type of toy. This makes it more interesting for you pup.
Was I right? Is Toby the cutest little thing you’ve ever seen? I’m really enjoying puppy sitting Toby and I will definitely be sad to see him go. However, my next puppy sitting assignment will start next week so there will be no time to rest.
If you’re interested in puppy raising or puppy sitting guide dog puppies then please let me know by sending an email through our contact form or just leave us a comment below.
So how about you? Are you a puppy sitter or a puppy raiser?
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