BC & Alberta Guide Dogs needs volunteer puppy raisers to help train future guide dogs. (File contributed/BC & Alberta Guide Dogs)

B.C. Guide dogs is looking for volunteer puppy raisers

Labrador retrievers need to learn obedience and socialization before heading to work

There are some tiny Labrador retrievers that could use some love and support, says BC and Alberta Guide Dogs.

The organization has put out a call for volunteers to help raise future service dogs for Vancouver Island, the mainland and Calgary.

Volunteers would take care of the puppies starting when they’re seven to eight weeks old, and keep them until their 14 to 18 months old to teach them obedience and social skills.

“The reason we do the volunteer puppy raising is because a big part of a well-trained service dog is being comfortable in all different kinds of environments,” said Samantha Jagt, puppy training supervisor (who, yes, knows she has the best job title in the world).

ALSO READ: 14 RCMP sniffer dogs forced into early retirement due to cannabis legalization

“There’s a finite time to get that socialization done. When they’re placed we don’t have a concrete idea of where they’ll be placed … maybe they’ll be in downtown Vancouver and need to navigate the SkyTrain, or lead people down roads somewhere rural.”

Puppy trainers will meet with Jagt regularly; weekly for the first while, then up to three times per month. Future service dogs will also do group classes to learn specific skills.

Currently, there are 17 puppy raiser volunteers on the Island, all south of Nanaimo, but BC and Alberta Guide Dogs need more as it expands its services and has higher demands.

The organization is now amalgamating with Vancouver Island Compassion Dogs to offer service dogs for veterans and service members suffering from PTSD, and is also facing higher and higher demands for service dogs for those with physical impairments and autism.

ALSO READ: Therapy dogs have pawsitive benefits on young patients

“Both wait-lists are closed because we have such a high demand,” Jagt said.

While the dogs will live with volunteers, BC and Alberta Guide Dogs still owns the pups, who are bred in Delta. That means they cover all their vet costs, and basic needs (though volunteers are welcome to get them lots of toys and are responsible for poop bags).

Jagt said not all puppies pass the requirements to become a service dog, sometimes due to excitability or health issues. She said these dogs don’t “fail” the course, but rather go through a “career change” and can be transferred to one of two pet programs, either for young children with autism or to regular families (though in this case, volunteers get the first right of refusal).

Giving up the puppies after a year-and-a-half of training is no easy thing to do, Jagt said, but in the end it’s worth it.

“I’ve raised four puppies and I don’t sugar coat that part, it’s really hard to give them up,” Jagt said. “But I encourage people to think of it as giving to, rather than giving up … the heartbreak is temporary. Seeing how much it has changed someone’s life is worth it.”

BC and Alberta Guide Dogs is also looking for donations to help build a new breeding facility in Delta that will have all the x-ray and ultrasound equipment necessary to help them expand.

For more information, or to make a donation, you can head to bcandlabertaguidedogs.com

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

Just Posted

UPDATED: Heavy police presence in Victoria had part of Bay Street blocked off

Bay Street east of Quadra Street was blocked off on Saturday

Hundreds of foreign species still washing up on B.C. coast, eight years after tsunami

The Royal BC Museum is home to thousands of samples collected along the west coast of North America

Victoria first Canadian city to join United Nations tree planting challenge

The City of Victoria pledges to plant 5,000 trees by the end of 2020

VIDEO: Grizzly bears fight along northern B.C. highway in rare footage

Cari McGillivray posted the head-turning video, shot near Stewart, B.C., to social media

Handgun crackdown, health spending and transit plans latest campaign promises

Friday was the end of a busy week on the campaign trail

B.C. woman photographs massive ant swarm on Abbotsford driveway

She asked what the ants were doing? The answer: war

Police arrest B.C. phone scammer linked to illegal call centres in India

Person arrested in Burnaby here on a work visa, says police

Air Canada forced girl, 12, to remove hijab: civil rights group

The San Francisco Bay Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations calling for change

Man from Winnipeg who was hiking alone found dead in Banff National Park

RCMP say the man was hiking alone on Mount Temple Thursday

Resident finds loaded shotgun inside a duffle bag in Kelowna alleyway

RCMP seized a loaded 12-gauge shotgun, ammunition, clothing and other items

Graffiti, calls and Snapchat: RCMP probe string of threats targeting Kamloops schools

There have been nine different threats made to four different schools in the city

B.C. truck drivers to face higher fines for not using winter tire chains

As of Oct. 1, not using chains on the highway when required could net you a $598 ticket

Most Read