Guide Dogs WA staff and volunteers are often asked about Puppy Raising, and the most common feedback from the general public is “I’d love to do it, but I don’t think I could give the dog up at the end!”
Peter, Puppy Raiser of Lulu recently shed some light on his experience, and how he, his wife Fiona and kids Genevieve and Robert selflessly raised this gorgeous puppy to one day change a life…
Raising Lulu…by Peter Weston
Recently, I was privileged to attend and present at a graduation ceremony for our Lulu, now a fully-fledged working guide dog. My family raised and trained Lulu from puppyhood to age 2 years, taking her from a bounding, playful pup through to a thoroughly trained, intuitive and well loved (and still playful) Guide Dog. Lulu now provides independence for a lady named Rose, who lost her vision as an adult.
Whilst raising and caring for Lulu, we were always asked “how can you give her up?”
For us, and I’m sure most volunteer Guide Dogs WA Puppy Raisers, that was never something we were concerned about. The pleasure of having Lulu in our lives for two years, but knowing what a great difference she’d provide should she graduate, was our only thought.
Sure, when we handed her over for her formal Guide Dog training, we cried and probably were a little depressed for a bit, however, she was on a new journey and should she succeed, it was all worth it.
So, why am I writing about this? It was the graduation ceremony that was confronting.
I didn’t expect just how liberating it would be for this person, Rose, to have Lulu to guide her and provide a welcome level of independence, something that she hadn’t experienced for quite some time.
To see Lulu in work mode was incredible, yet more amazing was the bond Lulu has with her new sidekick. Lulu now has a new home where she’s incredibly valued, not just as a guide, but as a companion through whom the new family has benefited from greater social engagement – and that’s what hit me, it was the liberation that Lulu has provided that was an amazing benefit of being a Puppy Raiser. We didn’t play any part in that, Lulu achieved this greater social interaction and changed Rose’s life.
There is quick story that I relayed at the graduation ceremony. A niece of ours is petrified of dogs… I mean absolutely terrified by them. Initially when she visited, we had to put Lulu outside. However, over a few visits, my wife introduced her to Lulu. Lulu’s intuition was astounding, she instinctively felt the terror of our niece and dropped close to the floor, keeping her head well down, even covering her eyes with her paws. Our niece managed to pat her. Now, even though our niece is still afraid of dogs, she says that she “once loved a dog, and that dog is called Lulu”.
Becoming a Puppy Raiser is a commitment, but a very rewarding one. You can read more about what’s involved, and whether Puppy Raising might be right for you.
It costs more than $35,000 to raise a Guide Dog. Consider donating today to enable more people, like Rose, to receive the life-changing gift of a Guide Dog like Lulu.