Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Raise a Puppy to Change a Life

SSD Lucy is lucky number 13 for Sharon. Sharon is one of our veteran puppy raisers, who has had a hand in raising 13 dogs for us. She recently shared her reasons for being a puppy raiser.

The first dog I raised was a challenging experience. She challenged every request I asked of her. Although she didn’t make it in SSD’s program, she did become a drug enforcement dog, which was a perfect fit for her. However, I had such an exhausting experience with this first dog that I almost quit being a puppy raiser.

When Nancy (SSD’s director) asked me to raise another puppy, I almost said no, but she brought the puppy along with her. How can you say no to a warm, wiggly puppy? I agreed, and this second dog sealed my fate in raising dogs for SSD. 

This dog, SSD Lily, was a sweet, smart, and wonderful dog. It was painful to send her to advanced training – what I call “puppy college” – because we loved her so much. But then we had the opportunity to meet Lily’s partner, and that pain turned to healing. The child who was paired with Lily was thrilled with her new dog, and we saw how much they needed each other. Several months after they were working together, the child’s mother called me and thanked me for giving her daughter a childhood. Before Lily, the girl was never able to get her toys out by herself. Now with Lily, the girl could get her toys out even when her mom told her not to – and her mom was so happy that her daughter could disobey for the first time, just like any other child! The girl and Lily also got in trouble for unwinding a roll of toilet paper. Her mom found them completely covered and giggling in the bathroom. The girl and Lily were a perfect pair. Her mom was so thankful that we made the sacrifice to give up this dog for her little girl.

It still brings tears to my eyes, and it’s been about 15 years since we raised Lily! This is why I still raise puppies for SSD.

Out of the 13 dogs I’ve raised, 7 have been placed as working dogs in SSD’s program, and of course, SSD Lucy is still in training. Each dog that was placed confirmed why I was giving up these wonderful dogs. Each time it leaves a hole, but the happiness of their partners helps fill it. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that these dogs are completely loved and maybe even a bit spoiled by their partners.

Would you like to be a puppy raiser and change lives? SSD has 28 puppies that are looking for puppy raisers. Raisers give the dog a home for 18-24 months and teach the dog the basic skills it will need to become a service dog. No experience is necessary! We will teach you everything you need to know.

Apply online today to raise a puppy. 


  1. What Sharon has done is truly impressive! I am part of a group of students at Temple University called TUK94Life. We are helping Canine Partners for Life by raising donations. CPL like SSD is a charity dedicated to training service dogs, home companion dogs, and residential companion dogs to assist individuals with a wide range of physical or cognitive disabilities. After reading Sharon’s story we were truly touched by her devotion and the fact she has raised 13 SSD puppies.
    Both SSD and CPL share the same goal: more than a form of assistance, they are both creating long lasting caring companionships. The reassuring presence of a loving companion can truly ease the burdens of certain physical or cognitive disabilities. It is encouraging to see how many people are involved in such an admirable goal and it gives us the motivation to pursue our objective. We raise donations through the sale of homemade and gluten free pumpkin based dog treats at events such as the Paws Mutt Strut in Philadelphia. With your permission we would like to post information about SSD on our Facebook page to increase awareness. We believe it is important to support other charities who share the same focus. https://www.facebook.com/TUK94Life?ref=hl

    1. Thank you so much for raising awareness about service dogs! We have partnered with CPL in the past - they're great people and a great organization. They're lucky to have volunteers like you!

      Of course you can post information about SSD on your Facebook page. We would really appreciate that.

      Thank you for your dedication to service dogs!