Lou Travis, a Project Administrator in Hart Crowser’s Portland office, didn’t know what she was getting herself into when she signed up to be a Puppy Raiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB). She soon found out. Before getting the puppy, she completed an application, read a detailed manual, got a home visit, attended lots of little pup meetings and outings, and puppy sat. She also got permission from property managers and fellow employees to bring a puppy to work.
Finally, a cute little ball of fur named Paige became Lou’s new constant companion. The next 14 months were a constant stream of, “sit, wait, come, on your bed, down, stay, do your business, nice, kennel, stand, okay, let’s go, good girl, I’m sorry she’s working now but thank you for asking if you can pet her.”
Being a puppy raiser takes work and a great deal of patience, dedication, and love. There’s no pay (except puppy kisses). When the job is done it’s like sending a kid off to college. The adorable little ball of love has stolen your heart, but it’s time to send it off to someone who needs help getting somewhere safely, whether it’s by foot, bus, train, or plane.
Once the dog’s formal training is complete, GDB matches the dog with a handler to begin the final step of the training. Dogs that complete the training become working guides for blind or sight-impaired people, and career-changed dogs become therapy dogs or loving, well-trained pets. A select few become breeders (Paige is being considered for this).
It’s hard to give the pup back at the end. But according to Lou, “It’s an amazing and worthwhile experience that I’ll do again…absolutely! Try it…it will change your life!”