Graduates Jelly, Luka, Cassie, and Shasta at Team Training (left). Good Dog! Jelly with his new mom and Puppy Raiser at graduation (right).
by Delaney Custer
As Good Dog! Service Canines celebrates its 2020 canine graduates, Cassie, Jelly, Shasta, and Luka, what better way to recognize their hard work than to get an inside look at their training journey and the special humans who helped them along the way! This graduation marks an important milestone for our Fresno Puppy Raiser program because Jelly, Cassie and Shasta were the founding puppies in the program. Luka also got his start in Fresno, completing his puppy training with Brittney Micely, trainer and Puppy Raiser Area Lead.
Our Fresno Puppy Raiser program, led by Brittney Micely, started in October 2018, with Jelly (known as Dunbar at the time) as the first puppy in training with Cassie and Shasta joining shortly after. Brittney was inspired to start a program when her friend became interested in raising a puppy for Good Dog! after watching Brittney train Good Dog! IndyJo.
Over the last two years, Brittney has led an enthusiastic and hard working team of 13 Puppy Raisers and 9 dogs. Volunteer Puppy Raisers receive the service puppies in training at 8 weeks old, care for them, socialize them to new sights, sounds, and experiences, and meet regularly as a group to teach obedience and basic service dog skills. When the puppies are around 16 months old, they go to a professional Good Dog! trainer to complete their advanced training in order to graduate as service dogs.
Puppy Raisers Brittany, Alijah, Ashley, and Morgan are excited to see the dogs take the next step and meet their forever families. They gave us the scoop on what it takes to be a Puppy Raiser and why it’s such a fulfilling experience.
Many people wonder if it is hard for a Puppy Raiser to say goodbye to the puppy after raising it for so long. Puppy Raisers do miss their dogs after they move on, but Brittany, who raised Good Dog! Cassie for 11 months, explained that the most rewarding part about being a Puppy Raiser is being able to see the dog get matched with their child and seeing how excited the family is to bring them into their lives.
Ashley and Alijah, who co-raised Good Dog! Shasta, commented on their hopes for her future following her graduation. Ashley is certain that Shasta will “be the perfect companion for her family in any way that they need her,” and Alijah says, “I know her unconditional love and desire to please will be wonderful for her new family” Clearly, these Good Dogs live up to their name, all thanks to their loving and dedicated Raisers.
Fresno Area Lead Brittney Micely leads field trips and training sessions with her dedicated group of Puppy Raisers.
Puppy Raising is a “work of heart” and Raisers are dedicated volunteers who put tremendous time and love into preparing the puppies to be service dogs. Morgan, Good Dog! Jelly’s Raiser who is now raising her third puppy, commented on the hard work and dedication it takes to train a service puppy, saying that the biggest challenge she faced was, “feeling like I could always do more to make my pup better prepared and equipped for their journey.”
Brittany, who has been a Puppy Raiser for two years, grew up breeding and raising Australian Shepherds and became a Raiser in pursuit of her childhood desire to train service dogs. Similarly, Alijah, an animal science major, said “What draws me to training dogs, specifically service dogs, is the powerful relationship between them and their forever homes and how they help one another.”
Not only is puppy raising and training a wonderful way for animal lovers to share a special connection with a pup, but it’s also a life-changing experience that will open your eyes to the world of service animals. Ashley said that being involved with Good Dog! Service Canines has impacted her life by helping her to “be more social, be more informative to others about Good Dog, and to not be shy in public. This past year working with Shasta gave me warmth in my heart to keep helping other families find their forever family companion.”
These pups and their amazing Puppy Raisers have worked tirelessly to make life more accessible for people of all abilities, and Good Dog! Service Canines is beyond proud and excited to watch them take the next step. Area Lead Brittney says “I am so proud of these Puppy Raisers for putting in such great work and a huge amount of time into training these puppies to become service dogs. It’s amazing that all three of our first Puppy Raiser program dogs completed their training and are now being handed to their forever families. While I may have taught them how to train their pups, it’s their commitment and love that got them here. They should all be so proud of this huge accomplishment.”
Together, these dedicated individuals and their precious pups are changing the world, one Good Dog! at a time. Join our team of volunteer Puppy Raisers! We’re currently accepting applications for a Fall/Winter 2020 start in these California locations: Eureka, Fresno, Bakersfield, and Petaluma. Get started here!