Guide Dogs of America

Working From Home? You Might Be a Candidate to Raise a Guide Dog and Change Someone's Life

Volunteer puppy raisers provide the real-world experiences young dogs need before they're paired with a blind or visually impaired partner. Here's what to know about the program during the pandemic.

A puppy in training is handed off to puppy raisers.
Guide Dogs of America

If you're working from home, now might be an great time to participate in the Guide Dogs of America puppy-raiser program.

Puppies from the organization's litters are placed in foster homes, where puppy raisers will help the young dogs prepare for formal training and life as working guide dogs. When they're ready, the dogs will eventually be paired with a person who is blind or visually impaired.

Thirteen future guide dogs went home with volunteer puppy raisers during a drive-thru pick-up process Monday May 4, 2020 at the Guide Dogs of America campus in Sylmar.

"The need for highly trained guide dogs and service dos hasn't slowed during the pandemic," said Stephanie Colman, puppy program coordinator. "In order to match service dogs with people who need them, we first need dedicated volunteers to help raise these amazing animals."

Puppy raisers provide a caring home and teach basic obedience, house manners and provide urban socialization -- helping puppies adapt to the real world and the situations they'll encounter as guide dogs.

No experience is necessary. The program has been altered during the pandemic to allow for social distancing. Instead of in-person training classes, volunteers attend two rounds of online training. You'll have access to online puppy "tech support" from GDA's staff if questions come up.

"In may cases, major companies have announced a permanent work-from-home option for employees," Colman said. "This has opened the door for many, allowing them to participate in the life-changing opportunity to raise a puppy who will go on to become the eyes of a blind or visually impaired person."


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Potential Puppy Raisers: Click here for application information

Note: Online information sessions are coming up Monday Sept. 19 at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday Oct. 17 at 10:30 a.m. Call 818-362-5834 for more information or click here.

What Interested Raisers Should Know

  • Must live in Southern California.
  • GDA covers all medical expenses
  • Puppy-raisers pay for food, toys and flea/tick medication
  • Out-of-pocket expenses are tax-deductible
  • Must have time to invest in the dog's training
  • Assignments last about 14 months
  • Puppies are matched with raisers at 8 weeks old
  • Puppies return to GDA campus for formal training at 16 to 18 months
  • 'After formal training, dogs are matched with a client
  • If dog does not successfully complete the program, it will be evaluated for placement in GDA's service dogs program
  • If the dog is not suitable for service work, puppy raisers have the option to adopt

Does that sound like something for you? Click here to submit an application.

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