I heard about the CNIB Guide Dog program through my husband, Scott. CNIB
is one of his clients. His contact there had known him for years and knew that
dogs had always been a part of our lives. She encouraged us to apply to raise a
puppy. I've always loved dogs, so it wasn't a hard decision to make. And what a
pleasure it has been!
Our puppy Ulysses, or "Uly" for short, is the easiest pup we've
ever had. He's our fifth dog. He's intelligent, quick to learn, gentle in
nature, and calm enough for people to notice. He has integrated easily into our
home among two other dogs. They have taught him lessons that I can't teach
about appropriate dog behaviour, correcting him as necessary.
As a puppy raiser, it is our job to socialize the dog, and to teach him
basic commands such as come, sit, down, stand, stay, off, and to walk nicely at
our left side. We are encouraged to expose him to all sorts of social
experiences. So far he has been to work, to bible study, shopping, fine dining,
fast food, a train station, a fishing lodge, in a canoe, and in a kayak.
I had forgotten what a people magnet puppies are. When he has his 'Future
Guide Dog' vest on, everyone wants to talk to you. What a great way to
advertise the Guide Dog program!
Now before everyone rushes to sign up, I should mention the other side of
the story. To be a puppy raiser is a huge time commitment. You basically need
to be able to have your pup with you all day. Other than a few hours here or
there, if you go somewhere, he goes with you. And it takes lots of intentional
time to train a dog to respond to commands.
When I speak to people about being a puppy raiser, one question always
comes up. "How are you going to give him up?" It's a great question.
I tell them that I'm willing to donate a few tears for a great cause. As much
as I love Uly, he doesn't belong to me. He has a very special future purpose.
Someday he is going to completely change someone's life for the better, and I
just thank God that I've been able to play a small part.
By, Sharon MacMurchy