Spirit Award 2018 – NEADS Puppy Raisers

The 2018 NEADS Spirit Award was presented to the NEADS Puppy Raisers. It is both a heartbreaking, and heart-filling act to raise a puppy for NEADS. Puppy Raisers are invested in our mission to serve our clients. We would not be able to raise, train, and match World Class Service Dogs without you. Thank you for your time, effort, dedication, and support.

NEADS Puppy Raisers dedicate up to two years to the critical component of socialization of our program dogs. Raisers are responsible for ensuring the puppies not only experiences a wide range of situations – but that they are familiar and confident in those situations. This is a critical component of the training of our dogs. When a dog is placed with a client they must be poised and comfortable in all public settings they might encounter. This can only happen through the progressive, on-going, positive associations our raisers create during socialization experiences.

So, what do some of our puppy raisers experience while raising a NEADS dog in training?

  • They welcome a 10-week old puppy into their home and life.
  • Many will experience the joy of housebreaking a puppy during the harsh New England winter
  • They work through the “testing” stage – where a dog pretends they don’t know the basics of obedience.
  • Our weekend raisers travel to a prison facility to pick up and drop off a puppy every weekend for two years.
  • Our fulltime raisers experience life with a NEADS dog 24/7
  • They meet new people and get to work with some of the best volunteer peers in the country! Many lifelong friendships are created as a result.
  • They do things they normally would not do
  • They get to see both sides of a Service Dog – the all business, working side and the “off duty” playful puppy side.
  • They frequently get to educate people in public that they encounter – such as access rights, Service Dog etiquette, and the mission of NEADS.
  • They share their time, love, and energy endlessly
  • Sometimes raisers put a lot of work into the training of a dog that is ultimately released from the program.
  • They make a positive impact and contribute to creating autonomy in the life of someone they do not yet know. In this way, they give back to our community.
  • Just as the puppy is beginning to mature and come into their own – we match the dog with a client.
  • Ultimately, the raiser and their family must say goodbye.
  • Many turn right around and do it all over again.

Thank you to all NEADS Puppy Raisers.