Puppy Love: My Journey Being a Puppy Raising
Since I was young, I have always grown up surrounded by unique animals such as lizards, snakes, turtles, bunnies, fish. The one thing that helped me grow into my passion was the multiple dogs we had in our house, specifically Labrador Retrievers. My dad started off volunteering at Southeastern Guide Dogs organization as a breeder host, which is where you keep a dog full time at the house until it needs to be brought down to the school for breeding. My mom would bring my brother and I down to the campus to help pick up our dog that was a breeder. We would pass all the adorable puff ball puppies in the kennels playing with toys. These puppies are future super heroes for people who need them, such as visually impaired or veterans suffering with post traumatic distress.
Every time before we left, I would beg and cry for my mom to get one of those cute puppies to take home. Years later when I was fourteen, I decided to take on the responsibility of a Southeastern Guide Dog puppy raiser. The duties of a puppy raiser require time management and commitment to this puppy for at least a whole year until it has to be returned back to the official training school. When they are returned, they are evaluated and tested to see what occupation they might make in the future.
My first puppy, Mastro, who was sponsored by the Tampa, Florida Subaru car dealership. He was a yellow male lab that was very mellow and loved to go to new places in his working coat. Mastro meant everything to me and turning him in was one of the toughest tasks I have ever done. Months would go by with reports on Mastro’s progress, and eventually a final decision on a specific program for him. He was matched with a veteran, who will remain nameless for their privacy, that suffers from severe PTSD. Mastro brings him security and comfort throughout each day, changing his life one step at a time.
My plan was to raise one more puppy before going off to college, so I picked up another yellow male lab named Suba, sponsored by Subaru of America. Suba was extremely intelligent and loved learning his obedience each day. His sponsor had asked if my family and I if we would want to be in an animal planet puppy bowl commercial, which we happily accepted to give Southeastern Guide Dogs great exposure to the public. Suba loves to dress up, especially when it comes to Ranch Bucket hats. He will take it off your head and run around with it. My mom and I have a special bond with Suba, just like the one with Mastro.
Being a part of Southeastern Guide Dogs has changed my life and has made me fall in love with giving back to the community. I am a puppy raiser for those who cannot see and for those that have seen too much.
~ Devin ~