Tuesday, October 16, 2012
I am a first time New Horizons Service Dogs puppy raiser. I recently got “the call” – the one where it is time to return Sienna, the puppy I’ve helped raise since she was eight weeks old.
So, to paraphrase an old commercial, “It's 10 p.m. Do you know where your service puppy is?” I ask this question because this is my greatest concern – that somehow I won’t know what becomes of the dog in whom I’ve invested so much time, energy, love and commitment (both financial and emotional). That somehow she will simply disappear from my life, forever..
I’ve shared my concern with the leadership at New Horizons Service Dogs. I’ve been assured that I will know where she is – that I’ll be invited to her graduation, that I will see first-hand her partnership with the person she will serve. Still, I have the emotions that all puppy raisers must feel – will she be happy, healthy and loved? Will her partnership be successful? What will happen if she doesn’t make it successfully through her advanced training? What if, what if, what if…
If you've had a puppy that was part of a prison training program, please share your thoughts about both the successes and challenges you’ve experienced.
So, I’m posing the question – Do you know where your service puppy is? I invite answers from service puppy raisers from all service dog organizations. I invite input from those individuals and families that have service dogs – both those that have active service dogs and those that have had service dogs in the past. What has your experience been like? How would you advise me or other potential puppy raisers? Is the effort worth the potential for heart break?
My husband will be the first to say, “I told you so – I knew you couldn’t do it.” I disagree because I became a puppy raiser for the purpose of helping raise a dog that could make a difference in someone else’s life. I am still committed to that goal. I want to hear your story, please share. I invite you to post your story here or to contact me personally at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your response can be anonymous. I appreciate your candor and your input.
Peggy Hoyt, puppy raiser and animal lover