Volunteer as a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs of America and be a part of changing the lives of those who are blind or visually impaired. GDA is looking for loving homes to raise a puppy of 8 weeks of age until he or she is around 18 months old. If you live in Southern California, we want to hear from you.
Our puppies are placed in foster homes at 8 weeks of age. The volunteer foster families are called puppy raisers.
All first-time applicants must fill out applications and be interviewed before a puppy is placed in the home. Raisers must live in Southern California (Sylmar, San Gabriel Valley, South Bay, Orange County, Westside Los Angeles, San Diego, Ventura or San Luis Obispo). Children and pets in the household are a plus.
Receiving a puppy: You will be notified and scheduled to come in for a Puppy Orientation meeting. In this meeting we’ll explain the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for raising the puppy. You will be given a a Puppy Manual on raising and a folder with schedules and tips to help you along the way. After orientation you will be given your GDA puppy.
You will also receive a bowl, brush, bone, leash, collar, ID tag, ID card, puppy jacket, and a 5 lb bag of dog food. Food and any items purchased for the puppy are tax deductible. Our puppies are cared for in our state-of-the-art veterinary clinic on our campus in Sylmar. Out-of-state puppy raisers are reimbursed for all veterinary bills.
Your role as a puppy raiser: You will play an essential part in making sure your puppy receives the proper socialization needed to help adjust to the important job he or she will do later on in life.
It will be your responsibility to socialize the puppy as much as you can. Take your puppy everywhere. Expose the puppy to as many different situations as possible (construction sites, heavy traffic areas, animals, children). A well-socialized puppy will have fewer adjustments to make when he or she comes in for formal guide dog training.
Through our obedience classes, you will teach your puppy how to walk on a leash, how to sit, stay, lay down, and come when called. It will also be your responsibility to attend monthly meetings. The meetings allow your puppy the opportunity to interact with other dogs and the meetings give you the opportunity to talk to other puppy raisers. The meetings are a good time to make friends and compare notes on your puppies.
Guide dog “college”: At about 18 months of age, our puppies return to Guide Dogs of America for formal guide dog training. At that time, we host an In-For-Training Luncheon for puppy raisers as a way to say thank you, to get together one last time, and to give puppy raisers an opportunity to say goodbye as they send their puppies off to formal training.
Formal training takes about four to six months. There is no visiting during this time but the puppy raiser can call to see how their puppy is doing while in training and will receive quarterly report cards.
The ultimate reward: Guide Dogs of America volunteer puppy raisers meet the blind recipient of the dog they raised at the guide dog team’s Graduation Ceremony.