Meet that Raiser – Dana Chalberg

Name: Dana Chalberg
Occupation: Community Outreach, Open Sky Community Services
Prison: JJ Moran
Current Pup: Reilly, 4 months old

How long have you been a Weekend Puppy Raiser and how many dogs have you raised? (Include furloughed dogs and the one you are currently raising).

I’ve been a Weekend Puppy Raiser since October 2018. Reilly is my second pup. He came home for his first weekend on August 2nd. Sully, my first pup, was 9 months old when he came home. He was matched in July as a Trauma Assistance Dog.

What led you to Weekend Puppy Raising?

My Greyhound/Coonhound Gus passed in May 2018. In the ten days after Gus passed four things happened that led me directly to becoming a Weekend Puppy Raiser with NEADS. I went to orientation and left with the Puppy Raiser manual. As was said to me when Sully came home, it was a match made in heaven. That continues to be true as Reilly and I take our first steps together.

Ice Breakers

If you had your own talk show, who would your first 3 guests be?

  • Lynne Cox, author of “grayson.” A distance swimmer, she was training in the ocean off of California when she realized a baby whale was following her. She stayed in the water with him for hours, hoping his mother would come back for him. Baby and mother were reunited!
  • Coleman Nee, former Secretary of the Massachusetts Department of Veterans Affairs. Sully and I met Mr. Nee last May at an event in Worcester. He saw Sully at work and we talked. He’s well acquainted with NEADS Service Dogs because of his work with and support for Massachusetts veterans.
  • Michelle Obama. I wish I had heard her speak when she came to Boston on her book tour.

If you had one extra hour of free time a day what would you do with it?

  • I would work in my yard or sit on the deck with a book and the sound of the birds.

Would you rather be able to speak all foreign languages or talk to animals?

  • Talk to animals, though I love speaking French. With a twinkle in my eye, I must say that I talk to my pups in French (and they answer in French – though of course I hold both sides of the conversation).

If you could visit one place in the world where would it be and why?

  • Hiking on the Appalachian Trail. I’ve hiked on the AT in 10 of the 14 states through which it runs – 4 to go, with dreams of Mount Katahdin.

Are you a listener or a talker?

  • Though I think I listen pretty well, I am a talker. I work on being a good listener.

Tell us your favorite part about being a Weekend Puppy Raiser or your favorite memory with one of the NEADS pups.

It’s difficult to choose one thing. I love going to class – the joy of being with and learning from the pups, other puppy raisers, our PPA’s. Between the time when I went to orientation and Sully came home I went to classes. It was wonderful. The support from and friendship with other puppy raisers, who so generously share their experience and enthusiasm, is beyond words. I also love being with my pup on field trips and talking about NEADS, the Prison Pup Program and the way in which Service Dogs change lives. I love the joy of people getting to see a Service Dog in Training at work.

I have many favorite memories. With Sully – his signature way of lying as “froggy;” playing soccer by himself, then putting his front feet on the ball and pulling down to make it bounce up for him to catch; his joyous Say Hello’s, especially with children with special needs. With Reilly – the way he pounces on a toy; the way he sits and looks at me with tilted head and eyes bright; his first (awesome) field trip. Last but not least, the puppy raisers who arranged to be with Sully and me when I dropped him off at JJ Moran our last weekend together, to take photographs and celebrate. Because of them it was a truly joyous experience.

Read the entire Meet that Raiser series here.