If you love dogs, and want to make a difference - becoming a 'Puppy Raiser' for Freedom Guide Dogs may be a great fit for you!

Freedom Guide Dogs for the Blind, located in Cassville, was started by husband and wife team, Eric & Sharon Loori over 25 years ago! Now they've made a difference for many right here in Central New York, and they're looking to people like you to become 'puppy raisers.'

FGD breeds, raises, and trains their dogs to lead the blind. In order to do this they are always looking for dedicated bunch of people to take the puppies at 8 weeks old and give them real world experience that they are not able to do in their communities. Part of the job is giving them back to do their designated service that you are training them for.

I spoke to Alison, who's the Puppy Placement Assistant at FGD. She explained that those who are interested in becoming a 'puppy raiser' have to understand it's something that takes a lot of time.

Puppy raisers need to have the time to devote to the training and socialization of our puppies. The training is basically good manners but the socialization is vital. The puppies must have good experiences in all different venues such as kids games, restaurants, stores, pet stores, at work or play where ever the dog might have to guide a blind or visually impaired person.

It's also important to know that that service dogs and guide dogs are doing important jobs and must not be petted or distracted. The life or health of a person can depend on the dog's attention to detail so talking to, feeding or petting a service dog can put their handler in danger.

Credit: Freedom Guide Dogs

It can be a heartbreaking scenario, so that needs to be kept in mind. The energy and love that you give to the puppy for 15 to 18 months, only to give it up just when they become easy to live with. Yet, once you see the powerful relationship that a dog and a blind person can develop it is well worth the effort and heart ache.

Our blind and visually impaired clients literally have their worlds open up when they are paired with a dog. The stories will bring a tear to your eye. The clients are able to move with confidence in many more situations and some of them have even had their lives saved by a savvy guide dog.

FGD pays for the veterinary care needed and provides flea/tick and heartworm preventive for all puppies being trainer.  They also provide a crate for the pup, and a puppy coat with Freedom Guide Dogs Puppy Program stated on the back. This jacket is to be worn by the dog while socializing, and they also provide a puppy-training manual.The 'raisers' are responsible for buying the dog food, collars and leashes, toys, etc.

If this is something you're interested in, you will need to provide Alison with a mailing address so she can send them an informational packet that goes over all of the things that goes into raising a guide dog puppy. Then, you'll fill out an application and if everything checks out - you'll get a puppy!

Get in contact with Alison@freedomguidedogs.org or call the office at 315-822-5132.

If you start training a puppy, send updates to us please!