This is the first post in a series titled, "Raising a Service Dog." I will regularly post about the experience throughout the yearlong journey raising a service dog puppy in training to become a service dog. But first, here is a little background.
A few years ago, we (my wife and I) became involved with a non-profit organization that trains service dogs. Admittedly, we got involved because of the dogs. That quickly changed once we saw the impact these dogs have on their partners and families. We started out as puppy sitters, which means we would watch/sit puppies for a few days or a week when their puppy raisers had to be out of town. Over 18 months, we watched 13 different puppies and most multiple times. Then, one day I received an email from my wife that read, "I think we should be puppy raisers." To which I replied, "That is a big commitment. Let's talk about it at home." Within five minutes she responded, "I sent in the puppy raiser application." So much for a discussion. In retrospect, that is one of the best emails I have ever received. I also realized that the decision was made long before she sent the first email because it was not humanly possible to fill out the application in 5 minutes. A few weeks later we received our first puppy, a 7-week old black lab. The rest is history. I am happy to report that our puppy advanced and recently started his second year of training. He lives with a field trainer who will take him the rest of the way. Do we miss him? Absolutely and every day, but we know he is doing what he is meant to do. We now have our second puppy, a little yellow Labrador Retriever nicknamed JoJo.
JoJo will be the leading character in this series. She is very sweet, calm for a lab puppy, smart, and loves to work. Please check in regularly for updates. Enjoy!