Puppy raiser helps groom pup for a life of service: Part I

Little Ivy, ready to start on her journey of becoming a guide dog.

Little Ivy, ready to start on her journey of becoming a guide dog.

By Barb Bronson

Hi, my name is Barb. I work part-time as a photographer and have some extra time so I had been looking for a volunteer opportunity. I wanted it to be something that would be personally enjoyable and would also make a difference in someone’s life. I’ve volunteered at various places in the past, but none of them were things that I loved to do. This time I was looking for something that I would feel a connection with.

I considered volunteering at a dog shelter or another place where I would be helping with dogs since other than photography, I love dogs! A few months ago, I was out walking my dogs (I have a beagle and a lab) and was walking by a neighbour’s yard when I noticed she had a new puppy.

I stopped to talk with her and found out she was raising a puppy for Alberta Guide Dog Services. I had no idea that this was done by volunteers so I was immediately interested. I contacted Alberta Guide Dog Services to find out more and talked with Sandra. She suggested going to a few obedience classes, which I did and found them quite interesting. I found the training to be very similar to what I had done when training my own dogs, so I knew it was something I could do.

Over the next little while I thought about it more, knowing it would take a lot of time, work and patience to train a little puppy. I also thought about how it would affect my life and how hard it might be to give the dog back when it was ready for advanced training.

My husband’s uncle became blind as an adult, which was a very difficult thing for him. His family has volunteered with visually impaired people for over 35 years, and it seemed like it would be a wonderful thing to raise a puppy to help someone like this.

IvyingrassA guide dog might have made a huge difference in my husband’s uncle’s life. I also watched some videos and read some stories about how guide dogs help children with autism, and their families. To raise a puppy that could give someone the freedom to go places and do things that they might not have been able to do otherwise is a great gift, and I knew it would make me very happy to be part of the team that makes that possible for someone. I also knew it would make me feel a great sense of accomplishment.

I went to a few meetings at the Alberta Guide Dog Services’ office and found out more. They gave me a lot of information about what I would be doing along with a puppy raising manual and the basic items I would need to raise the puppy. I signed up! 

In early March I was informed that the puppies were born! It was pretty exciting to see the pictures and know that one would be coming home with me soon. They’re so adorable! Mine is called Ivy and is a Yellow Labrador Retriever. Soon I’ll be picking her up at the airport and bringing her home.

In this blog I hope to be sharing more, in words and pictures about what is happening, how Ivy is growing and learning and how I’m learning too. I can’t wait to start on this journey!