Becoming a Puppy Raiser

While most guide-dog puppies are raised in a family, there is always one family member who is primarily responsible for the puppy and its training. This can be a child as young as 9, who has an adult to help supervise.

The puppy goes almost everywhere with its trainer, and even sleeps in the same room. This is important because, when the puppy grows up, it will spend most of its time with the person it is trained to help. So puppy raisers need to be willing to accept an almost 24-hour-a-day job for a full year.

Many puppy-raising programs are run through the 4-H Club. But you don't always have to be a 4-H member to be a puppy raiser. You do need to attend all the meetings and write all the reports involved in raising the puppy.

"We look for young people who are really committed to the project," says Linda Keilman, co-leader of a 4-H group involved with puppy raisers. "And, of course, they also have to love dogs."

They also need a lot of patience. "The first week can be pretty rough," says Chris Keilman, currently raising his second puppy. "They aren't housebroken and they're really lively. You have to clean up after them and keep them out of trouble, and they need a lot of attention."

But like many jobs that are lot of work, it can also bring great rewards, especially if you like big, sloppy puppy kisses.

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