Volunteer Puppy Raiser…hmmm? Sounds like a lot of work.

And, somewhere along the way I was told: If you’re going to volunteer, do something you love that puts a smile on your face, and then, it won’t feel like work. Whether you call it giving back, volunteering, or philanthropy, it can be fun.

A man (or woman’s) best friend

Not sure exactly how it started or why my hubby, Hank, finally gave in. We decided to become a volunteer puppy raiser family for a guide dogs for the blind organization.

I’m a huge animal lover, was craving animal energy — and wanted to make a difference in a more meaningful way than just writing a check. Something about getting our hands dirty and connecting directly with a charity’s cause sounded really appealing to us both!

We were exposed to Southeastern Guide Dogs — and became extremely impressed with their program — and so with both eyes opened, jumped in as foster dog parents. We brought home an adorable, yellow Labrador Retriever, naming her Finn (after my mom, Helen Dixie Finn).

There’s no way our advisors could have prepared us for everything raising a guide dog versus a pet would entail. Normally, we would’ve wanted to spoil a baby pup, but noooo, there were critical discipline lessons Finn needed to learn in order to be an effective working service animal. These constraints were the hardest part of our journey.

Volunteer Puppy Raiser
Finn was part of the family!

Despite the limitations, we had a blast with Finn. She loved the beach, golfing, dressing up (like her human mommy does) and basically being with us every single minute.

When we signed up as her adoptive parents, we realized the day would come when we’d done our job to the best of our ability and would have to say goodbye to our beautiful, rambunctious girl, handing her back to organization to further her training.

Happy endings . . .

In the end, this beautiful, strong-willed girl decided being a working girl was not for her. (Btw, less than 40% of the puppies raised actually end up as guide or service dogs.) As disappointing as it was that our efforts to raise a Guide Dog did not come to fruition, the happy ending is that she was adopted by a loving family with a farm (and plenty of room to run and roam). Our hearts are full knowing that Finn will live a happy life!

It was a lot of work, but there were also a lot of smiles. We had fun, made new friends, and grew together as a couple. Sounds like a WIN to me!

You are never too old to find a cause, make a difference, and have fun along the way…

Melinda