SAN ANTONIO – Like dogs? Love puppies? Then becoming a puppy raiser may just be the volunteer opportunity for you!
Since 1989, Guide Dogs of Texas, a nonprofit guide dog provider, has worked to train and provide guide dogs to visually impaired Texans.
The group professionally breeds, raises, trains and matches guide dogs to owners across the state.
According to the organization they have provided more than 240,000 days of guided sight to visually impaired Texans since its founding.
Located in San Antonio, the group says that even in a pandemic it has managed to care for three litters of future guide dogs in a staff member’s home. However, they are still in need of some “puppy raisers,” to help the program.
According to the group, “no prior experience is required and all training is provided.”
So far, the 22 puppies all spent their first eight weeks of life in the home of Martha Menchaca, the group’s early canine program manager.
“Martha has been a rock star in helping keep our mission moving forward,” said Sandra Merrill, CEO of Guide Dogs of Texas. “The pandemic has been difficult for many reasons, but having to care for future guide dogs 24/7 in your home can certainly add to the level of stress. Through her work with both the puppies and with our volunteers, Martha has helped our mission of helping Texans with blindness gain mobility, freedom and independence to keep moving.”
What’s involved in puppy raising and boarding?
According to the nonprofit, “puppy raisers are responsible for teaching the puppies good manners and providing socialization experiences for about the first year of the pups’ lives.”
The puppy raisers also attend monthly meetings where they share ideas, information, work on training techniques and participate in socialization outings.
What happens when the puppy raising time is complete?
The puppies return to the Guide Dogs of Texas facility for formal guide work training when they are between 12 and 17 months old.
According to the group, “Advanced Training Boarders provide care and comfort for these future guide dogs.” The dogs are no younger than one-year-old and are usually completely house trained.
Additionally, boarders are responsible for taking a Guide-Dog-in-Training home on weekday evenings or over the weekend.