From the book EVERY DOG HAS A GIFT: True Stories of Dogs Who Bring Hope & Healing Into Our Lives by Rachel McPherson, founder and executive director of the Good Dog Foundation.
No dog is born a service dog: He or she needs to be trained and nurtured. That process begins, quite naturally, when the dog is a puppy, and it requires a dedicated individual.
One very important way people can volunteer to help service dogs is to be a volunteer puppy raiser of a future service dog. Generally puppy raisers receive their puppy when he is around eight weeks of age and commit to keep and care for him for the next fourteen to eighteen months, depending on the program. The task of puppy raisers is to provide a safe, loving environment for the dog, to take him to the scheduled obedience classes arranged by the sponsoring organization, and to expose him to lots of opportunities for socialization. Typically they must also regularly submit reports on the dog’s progress as well.
Volunteer puppy raisers are needed by service dog organizations that serve the blind, the hearing impaired, the physically disabled, and people with other disabilities. It is important to note that puppy raisers do not train the puppy to be a service dog; they provide the critical foundation of socialization, love, and obedience necessary for a dog to become an effective service dog. Well-socialized puppies have fewer adjustments to make when it comes time for them to enter formal guide dog or service dog training. Without dedicated puppy raisers, service dog organizations would not be able to provide service animals to people in need.
Copyright © 2010 by Rachel McPherson and Lynn Sonberg. Reprinted by arrangement with Tarcher Books, an imprint of Penguin Group USA, Inc.