One of the most common questions I receive as a full-time student and puppy raiser for Susquehanna Service Dogs (SSD) is, ‘How do you have time for it all?’. Most people believe it must take all my free time to raise a puppy to become an assistance dog, but as I am raising my fifth puppy, I would love to share a typical day in the life of a puppy raiser. I certainly get up earlier than I would if I did not have a dog, but carving out an additional one or two hours every morning is part of our daily routine. Every morning starts with big puppy stretches and a quick walk outside to ‘get busy’ (all Susquehanna Service Dogs’ puppies in training learn how to use the bathroom on cue!). Then, I entertain puppy zoomies, playtime, and other activities to get out the morning energy before heading to school. The young puppy stays home and practices her kennel skills since she is not ready to sit still for many hours. A quick pitstop home during lunch gives the eager dog a reprieve before I zip back to class, and she continues her long nap. Once my school day ends, we enjoy our time together. Long walks, short training sessions, and a venture into a quick public outing are how most of my evenings are spent. Puppies have short attention spans, so short sessions of 10 minutes or less are better for their learning, and that fits perfectly into my study breaks. After a long day of napping, playing, and education, the puppy is ready to curl up for bed in her kennel and repeat her routine the next day.
Susquehanna Service Dogs’ puppies are adaptable, and SSD puppy raisers come from all walks of life. You can be a student, working full time, retired, or anywhere in between and still learn how to be a puppy raiser; no experience necessary!
Volunteers make it possible for Susquehanna Service Dogs to breed, raise, train, and place life-changing assistance dogs. SSD currently has over 400 volunteers who collectively give over 40,000 hours each month to the program. Whether they are raising puppies or painting a fence, volunteers are making a difference and helping to change lives. You can learn how to become a puppy raiser by visiting susquehannaservicedogs.org.