Denver - March 21, 2013
I was dozing on Wednesday afternoon when the end of Marianne's phone conversation woke me up.
"All right, we'll see you Sunday, and we'll bring our pups. Thanks!" Marianne said and hung up the phone.
I scrambled off the dog bed and ran over to her. "Me? Where am I going on Sunday?"I demanded. "And you said 'we' and 'pups' plural, so who else is going?"
Marianne frowned at me. "You're being awfully pushy. Maybe we'll just take Lionel and leave you home."
"Oooh, Lionel's going too? I'm sorry, I'll be good. Who is 'we' and where are we going?" I gave her my most apologetic look. Lionel is the Canine Companions puppy my Auntie Vanessa and Uncle Kevin are currently raising; we're good friends so I knew it would be fun, whatever it was.
"Vanessa and I are going to make a home visit to a potential Canine Companions puppy raiser, and we plan to take you and Lionel, but you have to be on your best behavior, OK?"
I nodded. "OK, but what's a home visit? Why do you have to do that? I thought Canine Companions just sent puppies to anyone who wanted to raise one. It's a volunteer job, after all."
Marianne shook her head. "Um, no, it's a bit more involved than that. You pups are pretty special after all, so puppy raisers have to go through an approval process."
"Special, huh? I knew it!" I puffed out my chest. "I'm pretty special, you said so!"
Marianne rolled her eyes. "I knew that was a mistake as soon as I said it. Yes, you're special but let's save the bragging until you actually prove it by, oh, I don't know, GRADUATING."
"Fine," I grumbled. "So what’s involved in the approval process?"
"Well, potential puppy raisers have to complete an application that tells CCI a little about their homes and families, what pets they have, what experience they have with dogs, where they work, and why they want to be puppy raisers. They also have a phone interview with Stu, our puppy program manager to go over the application in more detail."
"Wow, that sounds like a lot of information," I said. "So why do you have to make a home visit?"
"There are a few reasons. Canine Companions wants to make sure the home is safe for a puppy. Sometimes the family hasn't ever had a puppy or hasn't had one for a long time, so we help them think about how to puppy-proof the home."
I looked around our living room. "Like what?" I wondered.
"Remember when Charlie was here a couple weeks ago? We had to move the books off the bottom of the book shelves and we had to keep him from chewing on the lamp, phone and computer cords."
I nodded. "Oh, yeah, and you had to move some magazines he tried to shred off the coffee table. And he tried to eat the wicker waste basket and the fringe on the rug and he chewed on the legs of the rocking chair." I shook my head. "He also chased the cats. Man, he was a pill."
Marianne laughed. "He was not! He was just being an 8-week old puppy, just like you were when we first got you. But new puppy raisers don't always know just how much trouble a puppy can get into, so we help them plan ahead. We look at every room to point out potential hazards. We also make suggestions about confining the puppy with baby gates and crates and x-pens until he's more trust-worthy."
"What else? You said there a few reasons for a home visit," I reminded her.
"We also look at the yard and check the fences and gates. We talk about potential hazards in the yard and how the puppy should never be outside unsupervised. We talk about integrating the puppy with other pets, if they have them, where the puppy will sleep and what kinds of toys are appropriate, especially if they already have dogs who might be allowed to play with items Canine Companions doesn't allow, like rawhide bones. We discuss monthly puppy reports, twice-monthly classes, grooming, vet care and puppy socialization."
I sighed. "I had no idea it was this complicated to become a Canine Companions puppy raiser. But why are Lionel and I going?"
Marianne smiled. "You'll like this part! We want to see how the potential puppy raiser and other family members interact with you. We also want to see how other pets in the home react and if there are any potential problems. Once I went to a home with a young dog that behaved very aggressively with the puppy. CCI suggested the family could reapply after their dog had matured and taken obedience classes. Another time I had to tell a teenage girl that she'd have to clean up her room because the floor was littered with all kinds of tempting things that my puppy wanted to destroy."
"Oh, so Lionel and I can "test" the potential puppy raiser?" I wagged my tail. "This will be fun!"
"No," Marianne said. "We don't want you to be purposefully naughty, but we are curious to see how the potential puppy raiser handles you and Lionel when we give him your leashes."
"All right, we'll be good, "I promised. "But puppy raising sounds harder than I realized. Have you ever scared anyone off?"
Marianne laughed and patted my head. "Surprisingly, no. I think the people who apply really understand what's involved and they are willing to do it in order to be part of providing a dog to someone in need. And of course it's totally worth it. One of CCI's mottos is "Raise a puppy. Change a life," after all."
I nodded. "True, but I like the other motto better: "Some people wait a lifetime for a miracle, we raise them one puppy at a time."
Marianne rolled her eyes. "Of course you like that one better."
I have no idea what she means, do you?
Chow for now!
JEB (Miracle in the making)
Assistance dogs aren't born - they're raised! Are you interested in becoming a Canine Companions puppy raiser? Go to http://www.cci.org or call 800-572-BARK (2275).