Guide dog puppy raisers share their journeys along the way

Puppies celebrating National Puppy Day. Photos courtesy Best Friends Animal Society
Puppies celebrating National Puppy Day. Photos courtesy Best Friends Animal Society /
3 of 3
Benji and Charlie Labradors on adventures throughout England. Photos by Ruth Lloyd
Benji and Charlie Labradors on adventures throughout England. Photos by Ruth Lloyd /

Guide dog puppy raisers share their proudest moments along the way.

Dog O’Day – What are some of the moments in your puppy-raising journey that you’re most proud of?

Alissa Phillips – I’m always proud when my puppies make progress and have their own successes, but I’m also proud of the dogs I know and friends I’ve made through puppy raising. I am part of a great region with great people and we really support each other and support each other’s puppy regardless of what career they choose!

Natalie and Anneliese Bush – I’m most proud that Anneliese, 10 years old, took responsibility for raising and training Dakota. She did it with commitment and leadership.

Chris Zunino – I think I’m most proud of the fact that I continued raising after my first pup went In For Training. It was very hard when the time came to take her up to the Training School. However when we went to her Graduation as a guide dog and met the gentleman who she was assigned to, I realized she was where she was meant to be, doing what she had been born to do. You love every dog you raise but like your children, there comes a day when they need to leave the nest.

How do you feel like being a puppy raiser is making your corner of the world a better place?

Alissa – I started puppy raising as a freshman in college and now I’m in grad school and still raising. Over the years my schedule has never seemed to stay the same, and puppy raising has been a great way to support my community and give back on my own schedule.

Since this is an in-home volunteer activity, it’s something that has become part of my daily life. No matter what career they choose, if any, I’m always so proud of my puppies and each one has made the world a better place in their own way.

Natalie and Anneliese – Becoming puppy raisers was a profoundly rewarding experience for our family. We started our journey hoping to learn more about training a large breed dog. We learned so much more. We grew and matured as a family through the process. We met an amazing community of people who are raising pups for Guiding Eyes and we interacted with our community in new ways—all this during the pandemic. I am so grateful!

Dakota is now back at Guiding Eyes and is being evaluated for her future work. She’s doing very well.

Chris – I hope that when people see us passing by there are some who will look into the program and become raisers. If not a raiser then volunteer in some other way, become a puppy sitter or Brood or Stud foster. If not the parents, maybe some of the children who ask, “why is she wearing a jacket?” will be future raisers. If so, I’ll have done my part to encourage the next generation of volunteers.

Next. Guide dog training explained by Nikki Wentz of Guiding Eyes. dark

For more information about how you could get involved as a guide dog puppy raiser, see the website for your local or favorite organization for more details on how to apply, and be sure to follow Guiding Eyes on social media (FB at Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Twitter and Instagram at @GudiingEyes). Dog O’Day is on Facebook at Daily Dog and Instagram at @DogODayFS, and we’d love to add to our pack if you’re interesting in covering canine sports, entertainment and lifestyle with us.