Mary St. Clair is a highly involved volunteer at Leader Dogs. She is client driver, a dog driver, a puppy raiser, and so much more! She is currently raising her sixth Future Leader Dog, Westley, a Labrador and golden retriever cross. She began volunteering after driving by the Leader Dog campus and seeing an advertisement for puppy raisers. “I made the decision instantly. It was one of those ‘Why not?’ things,” says Mary. “I had dogs and loved dogs my whole life. Plus, I knew that this would be a great opportunity to help someone.”
Like many of our volunteers, Mary first connected with Leader Dog because of the dogs but has continued helping because of the people we serve. “My favorite part is meeting the clients. Seeing the joy and freedom on their faces is the best feeling in the world.”
Driving the clients to and from the airport, taking them shopping, and helping them become orientated on campus gives her a chance to get to know them. Mary enjoys meeting all the clients, not just the ones who receive the puppies she raised. “It’s nice to meet people from other parts of the country and the world,” says Mary.
Although she loves her volunteer work, Mary recognizes that the job can be challenging. “My advice to someone considering puppy raising is to contact a puppy raiser and ask to shadow them for a day to see how things fall together. Hopefully, that will give them a better understanding of the commitments required to makes things possible,” she says. “I really love the work I do for Leader Dog. What I expected to be a good experience turned out to be a great experience.”
Pictured above is Mary St. Clair with Future Leader Dog Jaeger, one of the puppies she has raised, visiting a Boy Scout group.