Giving a Piece of Your Heart

By Cheryl Sacrates

Published in: Update - Issue 3 - 2016 »   

Robert Ingersoll once said, “We rise by lifting others.” This quote resonates in the hearts and minds of many puppy raisers, who raise a Future Leader Dog for a year, and then have to return it to Leader Dog to start its formal training.

As many people can imagine, raisers grow attached to the puppies they raise. It can be very difficult when the day comes for the puppy to be returned. While it’s not easy, they do it because they believe in the mission of Leader Dog. I can tell you from personal experience, one of the most common questions puppy raisers get when out with their puppies is, “How can you give up that puppy after having it for a whole year?” My answer is, “This dog will be the light in someone’s darkness. If you knew someone who was blind and could give them back their independence, wouldn’t you?” This is how some of our other puppy raisers respond to this question:

A golden retriever puppy rests his head on a person's sneaker while lying on a bus

“It’s hard. I cry every time. But there is nothing like seeing that little puppy who peed on your carpet grow up to become someone’s eyes. These puppies are so much more than a dog to their partners—they are a lifeline. I raise so that someone else can have the freedom I have in my own life.” ~Kayla Dever

“Yes it is hard to give them up, but I keep reminding myself that there is someone who needs her help, and she will make their life so much better.” ~Marcia Bedard

A woman wearing a white winter coat and a black Labrador cross a covered, wooden bridge. The ground is covered in snow and snow-covered trees can be seen behind the bridge. The woman and the dog are looking at each other as they walk

“I remind them that there is someone else who needs the dog much more than I do and explain the impact that the dog will make in that persons’ life.” ~Mike Pikelis

“This is how.” [shows picture of the first puppy she raised with his human partner] ~AJ Rourke

“That’s the answer to someone’s prayer right there.” [as she points to her puppy] ~Julie Hogenson

“The great thing about Leader Dog is that the dogs get to choose if being a guide is the future they would like for themselves. Seeing the difference they make in the lives of the clients is amazing. Having a small part in making that working and personal relationship happen makes it all worth it.” ~Amy Schupska

A German shepherd puppy wearing his blue Future Leader Dog bandanna sits in a green field with his head tilted to one side. One of his ears is pointy and the other one is flopped over

“It’s like raising kids. You don’t raise them to live with you forever, but to go forth in the world and do what they can to make it a better place.” ~Suzanne Ramos

“It’s not like I’m dropping him off at the shelter. He’s going to the frat house to play and learn with friends. He had a destiny greater than sitting at home with me and he deserves the chance to live it.” ~Elizabeth Secumski Reinhold

So there you have it. A lot of good reasons to raise a Leader Dog puppy. If you are interested in learning more or applying to raise a Future Leader Dog, please visit our page About Puppy Raising.