The Guide Dog Foundation in Smithtown is searching for Long Islanders to open up their homes and hearts to future service dogs.
According to the foundation's public relations specialist Allison Storck, puppy raisers receive an 8-week old puppy — either a golden retriever, Labrador retriever, or a mix of the two — to take care of for 14 to 18 months. Raisers help by socializing their dogs, teaching them basic obedience and allowing them to adjust to life in a home. Eventually, the pups head to the Guide Dog Foundation campus to begin formal training.
Since raising a dog is a full-time job, potential raisers should be able to take their pups everywhere so they can explore as many environments as possible. The purpose of this is to ensure the puppy has plenty of experience before it begins their training. Raisers should also teach their puppies how to walk on a leash, sit, stay and come when called.
According to the foundation’s website, puppy raisers will receive a manual on raising a foundation puppy, along with a bowl, brush, Nylabone chew toy, leashes, collars, flea and heartworm prevention, ear cleaner, stool sample containers, an ID tag, Guide Dog Foundation puppy-in-training jacket and bag of dog food. Additional puppy purchases are tax deductible.
After your pup becomes a guide dog, you can still keep in touch. The Guide Dog Foundation sends monthly photos and updates, and you will be invited to see it graduate from the program and meet its new handler.
To learn more and apply, visit the Guide Dog Foundation website here.