Beverly Kramer has been raising Leader Dogs for 20 years. In 1998, she attended an annual dinner at her local Chamber of Commerce, and the keynote speaker was a woman who is blind and her Leader Dog. “It was amazing to hear this woman’s story; I learned so much from her. She told me all about the puppy raising program,” says Beverly. Beverly already had experience training dogs before through her work with 4-H. “I immediately thought, ‘This is something I’m capable of doing,'” she says. After waiting till the passing of her elderly Yorkshire terrier, Beverly submitted her application to Leader Dog and nine months later she had a puppy in her home.
Most recently, Beverly was raising Future Leader Dog Ramsey (a Labrador/golden retriever cross) with the occasional help of her husband, Dennis. “He told me to not forget to mention him, but I did all of the training. Although he helps with taking care of the dogs,” Beverly says. Since she has started raising, she has taken a puppy each year and plans to continue because both she and her husband have always had dogs in their home.
Through Leader Dog, Beverly has had the opportunity to meet many amazing people. “It’s been an interesting journey. I have met people that I would have never met before in my life and it has been very enriching,” says Beverly. “It’s all about the clients. I have become close with these people; I have had them stay in my home and gone to some of their weddings.”
Besides being a puppy raiser, Beverly has also been a puppy counselor for the last five years, and she loves helping her group raise successful Leader Dogs. “I like to encourage them because it’s one of the best gifts they will give and one of the best life experiences I will ever have,” she says. As much as she loves puppy raising, she likes to prepare people for the commitment they are taking on. “It takes an awful a lot of time and family and friends’ support.”
Thankfully, the puppy development team is here to offer support to the puppy raisers. “I love the guidance the puppy development team gives to us raisers. I have called so many times with questions and they are always helpful. I had one dog with fear issues and they gave me great advice about positive reinforcement, which worked wonderfully because she overcame her problems and went on to be a successful Leader Dog.”
As a retired speech and language pathologist, Beverly has a knack for learning and education. “The thing I find most challenging about being a puppy raiser is making sure I stay on top of educating myself on innovative training techniques. It’s important for me to stay educated because the more I know, the better job I can do of raising.”