When people consider working with Can Do Canines as a Puppy Program volunteer, one of the biggest hurdles to starting the application process is reconciling the idea of investing so much into a dog, only to have to turn them back over to Can Do Canines in the end.
Providing an assistance dog in training the time, energy, effort, and love it takes to prepare them for a life of service is a gift of independence for a total stranger. Your commitment means changing someone’s life for the better.
And while you might feel a bit sad when it’s time to turn in the dog you’ve raised, you also gain wonderful training experience, have great adventures, and feel proud of you and your dog’s accomplishments. Can Do Canines keeps volunteers in the loop with reports on their dog’s journey of being matched with a client so you’ll continue to see them progress. It is the most precious gift—to truly make a significant impact on the life of someone else.
Ways To Get Involved
There are various volunteer opportunities in the Puppy Program. They range from short-term to long-term options, and all make it possible for us to match assistance dogs with people with disabilities.
Short-Term Foster: Provide temporary care for dogs in training, ranging from a few days to a few weeks. These volunteers are not required to attend training classes or take the dog on outings.
Long-Term Foster: Provide care and training for dogs in training for one to six months. These volunteers are required to attend training classes or outings at least twice a month and to take the dog in public with them around three times a week.
Prison Foster: Provide care and training for dogs in training in a prison program twice a month for three to five days at a time. Volunteers work on house manners, go on walks in their neighborhood, and socialize the puppy to things they wouldn’t experience in prison.
Great Start Home: Provide care and training for a puppy in training for six to eight weeks. Volunteers are required to attend training classes and socialize the puppy in public.
Puppy Raiser: Provide care and training for a dog in training until they are 16-18 months old. Volunteers are required to attend training classes or outings at least twice a month and to take the dog in public with them around three times a week.
What Our Volunteers Say
To provide a little bit of encouragement for those considering applying to our Puppy Program, here are some words from current volunteers about why “giving up the dog” is well worth the time and effort.
“When you see where the dogs go and the people they help, you cannot not give up the dog. It makes all of your work worthwhile. You basically have a good part in molding this ten-week-old puppy into an awesome tool that someone is going to be able to use and is going to provide someone with an independence that they have never had or knew was possible. That’s special.” —Derik Goodman
“When it comes time to turn in your puppy, you will be sad, but that sadness is overshadowed by the joy and pride knowing that you were a small part in preparing this puppy to move on and make a person’s life more complete.” —Sherry Petterson
“It [puppy raising] will change your life. You will be bigger and better for it. Everyone in your life will benefit from it. And turning in that dog you raised is like watching your child go off to college. You will be sad but then you will be so proud of what you helped do. The first time you see the dog you trained with their client is life-altering.” —Jenni Schroeder
“Where else will you be given a super wonderful puppy, provided with tons of support, surrounded by a community all committed to doing the same thing and end up giving someone the best gift possible? The benefits far outweigh the tough separation. And every subsequent dog will be better and easier.” —Mary Beth Schleif
If you’re interested in giving the gift of freedom, independence, and peace of mind, fill out a volunteer application or contact Robyn Rodrigue at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 763-331-3000 ext. 119.