I could never do that!
Volunteer puppy raisers are valued resources to Canine Partners of the Rockies. Sheila Allen has raised and trained many puppies for various service and guide dog schools. In spite of her vast experience, she also faces challenges in this role. Sheila shares some personal insight below:
If you have been a puppy raiser for an assistance dog organization for more than 5 minutes you have encountered a well meaning person who, in the process of inquiring about the puppy and your involvement in its training, will almost certainly exclaim, “I could never do that!” and “I would love the puppy too much to give them away!”
In my early days of puppy raising I found these well-meaning statements to be hurtful because what I heard people saying was that my ability to lovingly dedicate myself to training a puppy for the well being of another person which inevitably included returning that pup to CaPR for further training and placement equaled my stone cold heart in the eyes of others.
Luckily I gained new insight and perspective from Paul Smith, a man who was born with cerebral palsy and had very limited mobility, yet taught himself to make amazing art using one finger, 10 characters and the shift key on an old typewriter. When people would encounter Paul’s art they would also exclaim, “I could never do that!” Brilliantly Paul would reply, “What CAN you do?” Through Paul’s insightful example I learned that there is uncertainty and a question behind the statement, “I could never do that!”
What I began to understand was that the person behind the statement was recognizing their gifts were not the same as my gifts in that moment. They were not questioning my contributions and abilities or moral character, they were questioning their own!
the encouraging invitation “Your time, talents and financial gifts are as welcomed and treasured as this puppy!” This statement allows me to affirm my joy and commitment to puppy-raising for CaPR while conveying that there are many opportunities to share our talents with CaPR!
The next time you encounter a curious patron please graciously affirm your own commitment to CaPR by sharing your experience, your puppy and information about how they too can be a part of puppy raising with CaPR in their own unique way!
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