Guide Dogs of America is extremely fortunate to have, and is grateful for, our puppy raisers, a dedicated group of 200-plus volunteers actively raising puppies at any given time. In addition, the many more volunteers who have previously raised one or several puppies and those volunteers who are waiting to welcome home their first GDA puppy. The question most often asked of puppy raisers is, “How can you give him/her up?”
The answer to that question is found in the “why” GDA puppy raisers give of their hearts and homes. We asked our puppy raisers to share with us why they decided to raise a GDA puppy. While each person or family has their personal reason, at the core is a desire to help the blind men and women who come to GDA to learn to work with and care for a guide dog and enjoy greater independence and mobility. Several of the many responses and photos are included here.
If, by reading this, you want to learn more about becoming a puppy raiser, we encourage you to visit the “Raise A Puppy” section of our website to learn more about the program and the areas in which we have puppy raiser groups.
“When I first saw a GDA puppy-in-training out in the community, my heart leapt! I knew it would be a unique opportunity to combine my love of animals with a chance to model for my young children how to make a difference in someone else’s life. They had been begging for a dog, promising to help. ‘We will raise a guide dog puppy and, if you follow through on your promise to help, then afterward we can get a permanent pet dog,’ was my response. After we raised our first GDA puppy, Jubilee, I said to them, ‘OK, you did what you said you’d do and pitched in. Now do you want to get a pet dog or raise another GDA puppy?’ ‘Raise another GDA puppy!’ was the unanimous response that day and each time since, for the next 13 puppies!” – Cindy Miller
“When our son Collin was 15, he told me he wanted to raise a guide dog puppy. We went to a meeting and a puppy raiser, who was about ready to turn in his dog to GDA, came to the front of the room and talked about the experience. The tears welled up a bit in my eyes. I looked over at Collin and he had tears streaming down his cheeks. I leaned over and whispered, ‘We can’t do this. We’re a mess and it’s not even our dog.’ He looked at me and said, “Mom, I know I’ll cry when it’s our dog but if a blind person gets to go out and have freedom and independence because of the dog I raised, then this is what I want to do.” We are currently raising Wellesley, our sixth dog for GDA.” – Janice Hart
“We did this because we wanted to give back just a bit of the goodness we have had during our lives. It is rewarding to see Cassidy grow and knowing that when I look in her brown eyes they may be someone else’s someday.” – Alison Schooley