How Do You Do It?

Ask any Puppy Raiser for any organization what question he or she is asked the most; I’d be willing to bet my life and Bright’s that it’s something to the effect of, “How can you raise and love a puppy, then just give it away? I could never give them up!”

There have been about a thousand blog posts written and graduation speeches given that answer The Question, but I always enjoy hearing from individuals about what motivates them to keep doing what they do.

In June, I wrote Not Just Cute, an article on society’s somewhat skewed idea of what makes Service Dogs important, and I told a personal story to help illustrate my point. At the end, I asked readers to email me with their own stories, and got a handful of responses. In July, I had the pleasure of sharing Brenda’s and Nancie’s perspectives as CCI grads whose dogs have changed their lives; this month, meet Beth.

Beth is a CCI Puppy Raiser and currently has Zeta, a little yellow dog. Like every Puppy Raiser for every organization ever, she is constantly being asked The Question. Her response is thoughtful and reflects the heart of Puppy Raising beautifully.

Zeta puppy with wheelchair user.

I can do it because of what I can’t do. Going to war for my country isn’t in my DNA; I can’t risk life and limb for strangers, but I know that the freedom and rights I have are because someone else did what I couldn’t. If there’s anything I can do to support them, then I must. Raising a puppy who might be partnered with a veteran in need, who did what I couldn’t–that, I can do.

I had a typical American childhood; I had everything I needed, including my health and physical well-being. I played sports, hung out with my friends, and went on family vacations. None of those things presented a challenge for me, but there are many kids that can’t say the same. If a puppy I “raise and give away” might provide a child with a disability with love, companionship, and increased independence, all things I’ve had the luxury of, then I can do it.

So can you. And if you can’t, you can support those who can. There’s always a way to help.

This quote describes my feelings perfectly:

‘It came to me that every time I lose a dog (or in my case, turn one in) they take a piece of my heart with them, and every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.’ –Unknown

It struck me that this is a wonderful model for a cooperating, integrated community. We admit our deficits and use our strengths to fill in each others’ gaps. Since it relies so heavily on volunteers, the CCI community really counts on generosity, dedication, and love. Can’t puppy raise? Puppy sit. Can’t have dogs in your residence? Volunteer on a committee, give money or other resources, and spread the word. Are you a grad? Raise awareness through presentations, blogging, and contact with the media. There’s something for everyone. Don’t like dogs? The right response: It’s ok, CCI is really about people. My response:

Don't like dogs.

But seriously. CCI volunteers like Beth have something valuable to teach the world, and I’m happy to be able to share it on Help on Four Legs. Pass it on!

I’m always looking for stories to share. Email helponfourlegs [@] gmail [.] com.

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