Archive for May, 2011


Brooke the guide puppy is enrolled in one of numerous schools that train guide dogs for the blind. She is 9 weeks old, and she needs to take her first steps towards becoming a guide dog, which means staying with a family, like yours, for up to a year and a half. By being raised with your family, rather than at the school, she will learn some of the basics of being a dog, including lots about socialization, so that when she returns to her guide dog school of origin, she can learn how to be a guide dog. You will play a pivotal role in training Brooke the guide dog that will change the life of a visually impaired individual. What do you think? Does it sound enticing, at least enough to consider it?

What Will You Teach Brooke?
As a puppy raiser, you are responsible for Brooke’s socialization and manners. She will learn basic puppy commands and behaviors, as well as how to interact with her household surroundings, and how to get along with other pets. Eventually as part of the program, she will go out into the community with you everywhere! Brooke will ride with you to work (where you will have had to before hand cleared this with your HR department), to the grocery store, to the movies, to restaurants, to friends’ and families’ homes, so that she can experience being out in the community and get accustomed to being in nearly every imaginable circumstance. She will also ride with you in all modes of transport – cars, trains, busses and planes. All this is to ensure that when she eventually graduates from the blind school and is placed with a blind person, she has been in every imaginable circumstance.

Who Can Be a Guide Dog Puppy Raiser?
Volunteer puppy raisers have to meet a few qualifications, living like the right state to start with, the Guide Dogs of America program, for example accepts volunteers in 9 Western States, including California, Colorado, Utah and Washington. You also need to accept the terms and conditions of accepting a puppy from the guide dog program into your house.

Accepting this includes a thorough understanding of the expectations of you as Brooke’s puppy raising volunteer.

If you take Brooke into your home, you will need to join a Puppy Raising Club in your town or the surrounding area. This Puppy Raising club will hold a series of meetings, which you need to attend and check in with regularly. You will also go on group outings with the other members of your group and their puppies.

You and all members of your home must commit to the rules, regulations and responsibility of taking the guide puppy into your house. This means keeping Brooke on a leash at all times when she’s not in the house, getting her daily exercise, using the guide dog program (whichever one you go with) approved training and socialization methods, and attending training workshops that are mandatory for Brooke to attend.

You will receive the best in support and advisement when you are raising Brooke, both from your puppy raising club leader and the guide dog program. Someone will be available and willing to answer any questions you may have. Being part of the puppy raising program means that you will be supporting an organization that makes a profound difference in the lives of the visually impaired. Without the program, it would be terribly difficult to ensure that a blind person were getting a properly trained, highly socialized dog to help him or her.

So, no doubt this program sounds so great, you are wondering why everyone doesn’t just run out and join. There are some downsides to being a part of the program, the first and most obvious of which is that you must let a puppy like Brooke into your heart, fall in love with her for up to a year and half (depends on the program) and then send her back out into the world after to do what she was born to do.

Downside Can Turn into an Upside
Not all dogs who go through the program graduate from it. For myriad reasons, some to do with health, others that might seem random to you, but mean that the dog didn’t meet some criteria, Brooke could come back to live with you, should you so desire. It is not assumed that she will. If Brooke doesn’t “pass” the program would ask you if you wanted to adopt Brooke permanently.

Becoming a volunteer in the puppy raising program is a truly unique, wonderful, rewarding and challenging experience. Don’t make the decision without a full consideration of everything it will mean to take in Brooke as a part of the puppy training program.