Though my dog isn’t “technically” a service dog, she’s certainly therapeutic. Dogs have been scientifically shown to regulate heart rates and calm anxiety, because they’re God’s greatest gift to us here on earth (IMHO). A group of therapy dogs were even brought in from out of state to be with victims of the Las Vegas shooting while they were in the hospital.
And now, according to the organization Southeastern Guide Dogs, you can actually be a “puppy raiser” for guide dogs for the blind and service dogs for veterans with disabilities, and the only qualification you must meet is to have “love.”
According to a news release from the organization, volunteer puppy raisers live in many parts of the country and come in all varieties. “They are singles, families, working professionals, retirees and college students. And more are always needed. Puppy raisers don’t need experience or fancy credentials—all they need is love.”
Essentially, you act as a foster parent to the puppy until he/she is ready to go to high-level training.
“From the age of 10 weeks until about 18 months, guide dog and service dog puppies live with their foster parents, learning house manners, basic obedience and socialization. They have access rights, so they go to the mall, the library, restaurants, ball games, etc. and are part of the family until it’s time to return to our campus for six months of high level training.”
The Guide Dogs website provides more information on how you can get started being a volunteer puppy raiser, but currently, their puppy raisers are located in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.