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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 🙂
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.