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Destined to be a puppy-raiser!

Updated: Nov 11, 2022

Early Alert Canines (EAC) is proud to work in partnership with Canine Companions and Guide Dogs for the Blind. Dogs that have been raised for service in those organizations sometimes require a career change and are ideal for EAC's program. Long before they are placed with EAC, the dogs are raised by a vast network of volunteer puppy-raisers who provide vital skills, socialization, and love. After a dog is placed in EAC's program, puppy raisers are welcomed as part of the family! They receive updates and are invited to attend graduation ceremonies where they have the opportunity to meet EAC clients.

When Laura first moved to a new state, she had no idea that a chance encounter would lead her to find her passion as a puppy-raiser! She raised EAC Harper, who was placed in 2022.

EAC Harper as a puppy

What inspired you to be a puppy raiser?

"Do you believe that sometimes people are put in the right place at the right time? I do! That's how my puppy-raising for Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) began," shares Laura. "I was inspired to be a puppy raiser a year after moving to Arizona from Ohio. I was at an event and saw a man walk in with a dog wearing a green jacket with the GDB logo. Having a love for dogs, I struck up a conversation with him to learn more about what he was doing. He was the leader of the puppy-raising club in Yuma, and he was with his dog named Winston. He told me all about the role that puppy raisers play in getting puppies trained and socialized. He explained that at 16 months old, the dogs go on to their formal training on the GBD campus for the visually impaired. After attending meetings, getting to know other raisers and their puppies, and puppy-sitting for raisers, I was convinced that puppy raising my own puppy was definitely something I wanted to do! I became a puppy raiser because of that initial chance meeting. But maybe it wasn't so much chance and more of what was supposed to happen!"

What is a memorable experience with Harper?

EAC Harper as "big sister"

"Harper has always amazed me with her quiet demeanor and willingness to please. To me, she always carried a quiet sense of compassion. During 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic began, GDB needed to get all the puppies off campus as soon as possible. I offered to double up on puppies. Harper took that little guy under her wing and let him love on her and cuddle with her. Sometimes he would lie on top of her. She never once snapped or growled at him. She helped with his training, modeled what to do, and showed him what appropriate house behavior looked like. She seemed to know that he needed a caring "big sister" to show him the ropes," says Laura.

Why is it important that people volunteer as puppy raisers?

EAC Harper as a puppy

"If a person loves dogs and loves to pay it forward through volunteering, then puppy-raising is the perfect win-win," says Laura. "Organizations like GDB can't do what they do without the important job of puppy-raisers who volunteer their time and energy. We are given these wonderful little puppies to teach them the basics, socialize them, get them used to sights, smells, and sounds, and give them opportunities to see and experience the world to get them ready for the next chapter of their life. A puppy-raiser also gets to give lots of hugs, love, praise, cuddles, and kisses! Win-win!"

What is the most rewarding and most challenging part of being a puppy raiser?

Laura and EAC Harper

"The most rewarding thing about being a puppy-raiser for me has been the way it helped me to connect with a new community. It wasn't easy moving across the country to a place where I knew no one except my son. Being out and about with my dogs always seems to strike up conversations with people. I also built friendships with fellow puppy raisers. The most challenging part is also paired with the most rewarding part and that is the day the puppies board the truck to return to campus. It’s so hard to say goodbye to a puppy that has become such a big part of your life, but it is also rewarding knowing that they are going on to the next chapter of their life story...whatever that may be," shares Laura.

Thank you, Laura!

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