- Posted by Lion Jim Purton
The experience of a volunteer puppy raiser Puppies are cute and fluffy. They’re also
very curious and creative in their activities. Unless there is a dedicated program of supervision and training, puppies will grow up to be uncontrollable dogs. That is not the goal of Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). Puppies bred by CCI are meant to be service dogs, and unless the puppies experience proper training and socialization they will not be able to perform their intended duties.
That is where volunteer puppy raisers come in. At 8 weeks of age, after having been born in the homes of volunteer breeder/caretakers in California, the puppies arrive in the homes of volunteer puppy raisers all over the US. Immediately, the pups begin learning basic commands just like you would teach your pet dog. Socialization is very important, so the pups are exposed to many people and other animals. This is crucial because we don’t know where the pups will live when they go to work. They may live in a big city or on a farm. They may have to ride a bus or train to work every day. So it’s appropriate to expose them to these things at a young age so they don’t have any issues when they go to work.
As a puppy raiser you and the puppy will attend Canine Companions approved training classes where you will be instructed in establishing house manners, basic obedience and socialization. The class instructors are there to assist puppy raisers in problem solving unwanted behavior and to guide volunteers through the puppy raising process.
Once the pup is well trained and socialized, the puppy raiser often really feels the sense of accomplishment and reward from all of those hours of diligence in the early weeks of the pup’s life. The thoroughly trained pup can go just about anywhere. They are so well behaved that many people aren’t aware of their presence in a restaurant or movie theater.
Then the inevitable happens. It comes time for the puppy to return to Canine Companions for 6 months of advanced training before they go into the working world. For some, this can be the most difficult part as a puppy raiser, but we know from the beginning this dog was bred for a job. Now the dog goes away, just like sending a child off to college. “Now, get good grades, puppy, and find a good job when you graduate!”
Six months later comes the time to see this precious pup graduate. The raiser goes up on the stage and hands the leash to the client for whom the pup will work. As a raiser, it is very gratifying to see the bond already established between client and dog in the two weeks they have trained together.
This entire experience is what puppy raisers have worked for. This is what makes us cry tears of joy. This is what makes us Lions! Now it’s time for another puppy to arrive in our home. We start again to help improve the life of someone less fortunate than us.