The Places They Go
One of the most important jobs a Puppy Raiser has is to help the NEADS dogs feel comfortable in many different situations, around many people. They do this by making sure they have plenty of real-world exposure to different sights, sounds, and people.
But what does that look like day to day? Dana, who has raised two puppies for NEADS and is currently raising her third puppy, shares a few highlights of her puppy raising experience with the two pups she’s raised. What a journey!
The Life of a Puppy Raiser
By Dana Chalberg
Sully was my first NEADS puppy. I started working with him when he was 9 months old, and he was with me on weekends for 9 months until he was matched as a Trauma Assistance Dog. As you can see, we went many places and through it all, Sully was rock solid, comfortable in new situations and with new people. He would often lie with his back legs stretched out behind him, his froggy position, at ease no matter where he was. And he was always happy when he got to “Say Hello” to someone.
At the Auburn Mall Sully wonders about those big animals waiting for children to ride them.
Sully meets Mr. and Mrs. Claus...
...and the Easter Bunny.
Make Way for Ducklings… and Sully (at the Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital, Westborough, MA).
Sully at a horse show.
Part of being a Puppy Raiser is getting together with other Puppy Raisers for classes and field trips that the NEADS staff organizes. Here are some of my favorites.
One of the most memorable classes I attended with Sully (third from the left) was held at the Boston College campus for students aged 3 to 21 with multiple disabilities. The visit offered a great exposure for the dogs, as well as a great time for the children. Read more about this visit here.
Hank (l) and Sully at the Fidelity Ice Center in Worcester. It turns out that Sully continues to visit skating rinks to this day, as the person he was matched with plays chair hockey.
Sully at the Statue of Hachiko that stands outside the old Woonsocket, RI railroad depot. The depot was used in the movie Hachi: A Dog's Tale, the story of the dog in 1930s Japan who spent 10 years waiting at a train station for his master who had died at work.
You can almost see Sully thinking, “Oh the places I’ll go.”
Puppy Raising with Reilly
I started working with Reilly when he was 4 months old. He was curious, confident, and playful when he arrived, and he only grew from there. Reilly loved to work! He was with me for 17 months on weekends and then full time for several months more until he was matched as a Service Dog.
On our fourth weekend together, we visited the No. Attleboro World War I Memorial Park (MA). Reilly wasn’t fazed a bit by the life-sized sculptures. Was he thinking, “What is that large animal behind me?”
Living at my house, Reilly was able to experience the change of seasons, from discovering that snow is cold and wet to investigating the bird feeder - it swings!
Reilly, left, visits an Open Sky Community Services group home in August 2019 with other NEADS Dogs in Training. Read more about that visit here.
An October class in the training room at NEADS. Here, Reilly calmly sits next to the scary monster. No problem!
Reilly and I attended the NEADS November 2019 Graduation. When I look at this photo, I feel as if Reilly is looking into his future.
While the pandemic put a halt to many activities in the first months, we were able to resume safe, socially distanced, mostly outdoors classes and field trips by late summer. A visit to Garden City Center, RI offered plenty of different exposure opportunities.
Reilly sits on the L.L. Bean Boot.
Reilly with his friend Jettie (l) at Labrador Love.
The sign reads, “How Far is Safe? Approx. 6 Chihuahuas.” Better? Approx. 2 Labrador Retrievers! Reilly and Jettie (l) practice social distancing.
As I was preparing this photo journey of the special memories I’ve made with the two NEADS dogs that have been in my care, I learned that NEADS had another puppy ready for me; Velma came home in early February. I can’t wait to see the places she’ll go!