For more than 20 years, National Service Dogs in Cambridge, Ont., has bred, trained and placed certified service dogs with people across Canada. The service dogs work as a tool for comfort and support.
NSD is always looking for volunteers — not only in their puppy raising program but in others, such as the evening sitter program and the weekend sitter program.
“We currently have about 70 families raising puppies, 20 families with breeders in their homes and around 40 weekend and evening volunteers,” said Caitlin Bonaldo, assistant director in puppy development at NSD. “We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without having volunteers care for and train the dogs.”
In early October, NSD put out an urgent call for puppy raisers when one of their dogs, Monet, had a litter of 11 puppies. It sparked a discussion about the importance of service dogs and puppy raisers in the service dog program.
“We have about 60 puppies a year,” said Bonaldo. “Sometimes puppy raisers who have raised a dog in the past will volunteer again. We are always looking for volunteers in all capacities like fundraising, puppy sitting, organizing supplies around the office and so much more.”
People who are able to volunteer as puppy raisers will receive the dog when it is around eight weeks old and will care for it until it is between 16 and 20 months of age.
During the time raisers have the dog, their main roles are to love the dog, teach basic obedience by attending puppy classes and outings with the puppy program team, and to socialize them in public by taking them out in their daily lives — to work, school, appointments, grocery shopping and many more.
Though most costs for puppy raising are covered by NSD, there are a few things raisers must provide themselves, such as a dog bed, a crate, treats and a loving home.
For more information about National Service Dogs or the puppy raising program, you can visit their website.