Recognizing NEADS Volunteers, Part 2

April 2023

In part 2 of our Volunteer Recognition series we focus on our Full-Time and Weekend Puppy Raisers, who play a vital role in the development of a NEADS dog. With 33 active Full-Time Raisers, 41 active Weekend Raisers, and approximately 30 Raisers who are currently in between dogs, this incredible group makes up the largest segment of our volunteer network.

But the contributions of our Puppy Raisers extend far beyond their primary responsibility of nurturing our puppies. Many of these volunteers support NEADS in various other ways. Some offer financial assistance, while others donate from our wish list and help to spread the word about our need for more Puppy Raisers.

We are incredibly grateful for the remarkable efforts of our Puppy Raisers, who give so much to help us achieve our mission. Without their commitment, the work we do would not be possible. We cannot thank them enough for all they do.

Our Full-Time Puppy Raisers take in a NEADS puppy at eight weeks old and commit to raising them 24/7. This dedicated group of volunteers spends a minimum of 14 hours per week solely focused on their Service Dog in Training, while balancing their careers, busy children’s schedules, and social obligations.

The primary focus of our Full-Time Puppy Raisers is socialization and exposure for young, impressionable puppies, with a secondary emphasis on obedience commands. These raisers are responsible for providing a solid foundation for learning and confidence through systematic teaching and exposure, supported by our raiser instructors.

Here are just several of the many Puppy Raisers who are part of this incredible team of volunteers:

The Veith family started their journey as Puppy Raisers with Pepper, a Service Dog for Hearing, in 2020, and are currently raising Cali. While this is a family effort, Sarah takes the lead in raising the pups, with support from her parents, Lisa and Charles.

Doreen Rao has been a Puppy Raiser since the full-time program was in its pilot stage in 2017. She has raised Assistance Dog Boomer, Hearing Dog Lucky, sweet girl Bessie, NEADS Ambassador Verna, sweet boy Doc, and currently has Service Dog in Training Mystic. Mystic has gained celebrity status in Connecticut, as she was named by the Tegna Foundation and Fox 61 and named after Mystic, CT by the station’s audience. Doreen took time out of her busy schedule to travel to Hartford for a live TV interview with Fox 61, promoting our program and the importance of puppy raising.

Full-Time Puppy Raiser Doreen Rao (center) on the set of Fox61 in Hartford, CT