Reviewing the key components for successful puppy raising will help you decide if puppy raising is a good match for you. The specific responsibilities of a puppy raiser are outlined below. It is important for you to understand Guiding Eyes expectations, and completing the pre-placement classes and puppy-sitting will give you a good sense of what is involved. It is also helpful to review the Puppy Raiser Agreement that is signed by you once you decide to become a raiser, prior to getting your puppy. There are times when one individual cannot accomplish all that is required of a puppy raiser but, could partner with someone to become a “Secondary Raiser” and share some of the responsibility. To learn more about becoming a Secondary Raiser, please review the Secondary Raiser Conditions and Secondary Raiser Agreement to see if this is the right fit for you.
Puppy Raiser Responsibilities:
- Make the puppy part of your family: The puppy will live inside your home and be a part of your daily activities. If you have an un-neutered dog at home, you will need to raise a pup of the same sex as your un-neutered dog.
- Teach good social skills and house manners: The puppy will need daily instruction and monitoring to learn the basics of being mannerly and attentive to humans. Proper house manners (e.g., staying off furniture and counters, ignoring items that are not dog toys, etc.) are critical because the dog will eventually live with a blind person who will be unable to see what the dog is doing. The techniques we will teach you must be applied consistently, requiring your persistence, patience, and perseverance. You must keep the puppy in the same room with you and constantly monitor the puppy’s activities to provide appropriate instruction and direction.
- Attend all classes and Walk & Talk assessments: Classes are usually held weekly at first, and then progress to every other week as you and the puppy become more skilled. W&T assessment meetings are held quarterly. You will be provided with the scheduled dates in advance.
- Fill out periodic reports:
- C-BARQ – You will fill out C-BARQ on-line when your puppy is 6 months old, and again when the puppy is 12 months old. (The Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire, developed by Dr. James Serpell, Professor of Animal Welfare at the University of Pennsylvania, is designed to help define dog temperament.)
- Raiser Quarterly Evaluation (W&T) – You will fill out the on-line two weeks before each quarterly Walk & Talk assessment.
- Puppy Sitter form – Each time you send your puppy to a sitter, or puppy sit for another Guiding Eyes dog, you will fill out the Puppy Sitter Form.
- Raiser Final Evaluation – When your pup comes to Guiding Eyes for its In-For- Training (IFT) test, you will fill out a final report.
- Coordinate all health care with our veterinary staff: Veterinary care for your pup will occur at a veterinarian close to you and also at the Guiding Eyes veterinary facilities, as appropriate. Preauthorization is always required for non-routine care, except in the case of a life-threatening emergency. A local veterinarian will be assigned to you; please communicate with region coordinators if you have a preferred veterinarian.
- Expose your puppy to a variety of experiences: One of the most critical contributions you will make is to develop a puppy that is confident and relaxed in all settings. The most common reason for Guiding Eyes dogs not becoming guide dogs is the dog’s lack of confidence. For this reason, we need you to expose the puppy to a variety of commonplace situations and stimuli. Exposure experiences start as soon as you get your puppy and continue for the entire period of puppy-raising. Puppies are dependent on you to take them places and provide socialization experiences on a daily basis that are enjoyable, educational and appropriate for your pup’s age and personality. We will teach you what experiences are appropriate for your pup’s confidence and age, and how to support and bolster your pup’s confidence.
- Give the puppy up when ready for training: Puppies are usually ready to come in for guide dog training between 14 and 18 months of age. Guiding Eyes provides transportation to the Guiding Eyes Training Center if you are not able to deliver the puppy. (Occasionally, raisers find that they are unable to continue their puppy raising commitment due to health, family situations, job changes, etc. In such situations, Guiding Eyes will make arrangements for your pup to go to another raiser to complete the raising process.)
Guiding Eyes Responsibilities:
Our commitment is to support you in all areas of your puppy raising experience. We strive to meet your needs and we welcome suggestions for program improvement. If you have ideas for improvement, contact your Region Coordinator.
- Picking a puppy for you: We do our best to get to know you at pre-placement classes, and we use puppy temperament tests to help us match the right pup to your skills and situation.
- Support you through puppy raising: We will teach you the skills you need to raise a guide dog puppy, and work with you to help problem-solve if you need extra guidance. Guiding Eyes is constantly evaluating new techniques to improve the puppy raising process, and will provide instruction and guidance on how to use these techniques.
- Provide all veterinary care: We will provide you with preventive heartworm medication, all vaccinations, flea and tick preventative and cover all expenses for authorized veterinary care.
- Arrange the puppy’s transportation to and from Guiding Eyes: Regional van pickups are used for dog deliveries. Raisers are asked to travel to regional meeting points to drop off and pick up their pups. Raisers living within a two-hour drive of Guiding Eyes are asked to provide transportation to and from Guiding Eyes.
- Notify you when it is time for training: We will notify you approximately one month in advance of your dog’s in-for-training (IFT) date.
- Provide regular updates when your dog is in training: We will let you know the progress of your dog by sending you training reports every month or so.
- Invite you to graduation: Guiding Eyes is one of the few schools that provide an opportunity for you to meet the blind recipient of the dog you have raised. You will be invited to a graduation ceremony celebrating the new human/dog team and the people who helped to make it possible. If your dog is placed with a blind person through our Home Training Program you will be invited to watch your dog working as a guide dog before the placement and, if you would like, we can arrange a phone meeting with the graduate. After graduation, we respect the individual preferences of our graduates to either maintain or not maintain contact with their dog’s puppy raiser. Either way, you can contact your Region Coordinator for an update on how your dog is doing. For details about placement of retired guide dogs, please see policies for retired dogs.