Isn’t it going to be difficult to give the puppy back? Of course it will be! He is adorable and loving and intelligent and has such a wonderful nature! But I know why I'm doing this and why he's here with me. I know he will be going back to SAGA when he's grown so that he can become a trained partner to a blind person. I am going to cry, and I will be heart sore on the day I take him back, and on the day I see him graduate, but if I have done my job right he will be a consummate professional. And there is the possibility that one day, when he retires, that he will be able to come back and live with us again.
How long do you have the puppy for? He will live with us for between 11 and 18 months, and then he will go back to SAGA for his formal, grown-up guide-dog training.
What happens if your puppy doesn’t qualify for the program? If, during the time I am supposed to be raising and training him, SAGA decides I am not doing a good enough job, he will be taken from me and given to someone else to raise and train. If he should be pulled from the programme for another reason- like his health or the wrong temperament- I will have the first option to keep him. If I can't or don't want to keep him, there is a two year waiting list and he will then become someone's pet.
What is your dog’s name? His name is Volt. His name is very important as most of his commands start with me saying his name, and it had to start with the letter U or V, as guide-dog puppy litters are tracked alphabetically from January to December. His name also had to be accepted by SAGA as appropriate. If his name proves to be ineffective during the time I am raising and training him it will be changed.
Can I pet your dog? We are allowed to have people pet our pups, but they are trained to remain calm and quiet and disregard what is going on around them. If they get excitable and jump up and such, we ask the person to stop petting him so we can again get him under control. Our pups may not be picked up and cuddled though, and they are not allowed to jump up or chew on hands and shoes as puppies like to do.
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Don't forget to check out the Twitter hash-tag #SAGApupVolt to see regular updates on my puppy raising adventure!