Dog raisers wanted for BC and Alberta guide dogs

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WATCH: Service dogs play a vital role in the lives of those who rely on them. Getting a dog ready for the job is a long, difficult process and it takes a certain kind of dog lover to set them on their way. As Luisa Alvarez tells us, the demand for more dogs is growing and so is the need for volunteers to help raise them. 

While adorable to look at, cuddles and play aren’t all the activities puppies with BC and Alberta Guide Dogs will do.

Samantha Jagt the puppy training supervisor on Vancouver Island for BC and Alberta Guide Dogs says they have a bigger purpose.

“They’re bred to help the blind or visually impaired or help a child with autism. We also provide dogs for Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs who train PTSD service dogs for veterans and first responders,” said Jagt.

But before that can happen, there is a whole process. In order to get them ready, the puppies in their early stages of training work hard with their volunteers. Also known as “puppy raisers,” they play a pivotal role.

They are responsible for basic obedience training and guidance of the dog one-and-half-years to two years during their puppy stage before sending them off to advance training.

The demand for them is high in Alberta or B.C. to get one you could be waiting anywhere from two to three years.

“What we are trying to do right now is keep raising puppies to keep breeding them keep raising them, keep training them to send them out,” said Jagt.

But with increased demand for the dogs, the demand for volunteers is also growing and they need to have time to give because it doesn’t end in the classroom.

“We are looking for someone who is able to kind of incorporate the dog into their daily life so whether that’s someone who is retired or semi-retired or working from home being able to take the dog out with them and adding those little bits of going to the mall and going to the grocery store and things like that,” said Jagt.

After two years with the pup, the volunteer has to say goodbye and even though it can be difficult, if you ask them they will tell you it’s well worth it.

Carla Funk, a volunteer with the organization, says the experience felt little like “seeing your kid off to university where you think this is what we did all of this for and you could be potentially be saving someone’s life,” said Funk.

More puppies are set to arrive this summer. To volunteer, contact BC and Alberta Guide Dogs.

Luisa AlvarezLuisa Alvarez

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