More than Just Loving a Dog

A Raiser’s perspective on letting a dog go and getting another one
by Puppy Raiser Sue Scott

When you first take on a NEADS dog to raise you do it because you truly want to help someone else, you do it because you love dogs and you do it because it might be fun. All of which are true. But we do it from the perspective of a pet owner, so we have an internal identity as someone who loves dogs, not someone who raises dogs for the good of another person. People who love dogs naturally grieve when they let go of them.

Because we see ourselves as dog lovers, we fall in love with the NEADS dog instead of with the work we do. The secret to letting go of the dog is to fall in love with the work, fall in love with the reasons for raising the dog in the first place. Being a Raiser asks you to rise above average, to turn that love of dogs into a gift that you give away instead of keeping it for yourself.

The best way to fall in love with the work is to keep doing it.

As you finish with the first dog, you’ve only just started your transition from dog lover to dog raiser. When you take on another dog right away, you will love the new pup just as much as the last one. That’s when you begin to realize it was never about the dog, it’s about the work. You love what puppy raising means. Your identity changes from dog lover to dog raiser and from there it becomes easier to let go of each successive dog because that’s what puppy raisers do.

I always strongly encourage new Raisers to go to the semiannual NEADS graduation. There you will hear the stories of the lives that were changed because someone invested time and love into a puppy. You will realize why being a Puppy Raiser is so much more than just loving a dog.