Puppy Raiser Profile:
Julian works full time as a graphic designer and has recently taken up the role of being a first time Puppy Raiser of Vashti. We sat down to ask him what his experience has been like so far.
What do you like about being a Puppy Raiser?
I love being part of something bigger and the reward of seeing Vashti grow and understand new things is amazing. Whenever she surprises me by doing something she’s learnt because of me, it makes it all worth it.
Of course, I love doing all the normal puppy things like playing games and getting so many cuddles, but I also really love training her and having all the special rules around her. Seeing them work to make her such a well behaved and clever pup is great.
Why did you become a Puppy Raiser?
While I could have just had a regular dog, instead I got a clever creature who has a special job to do, and I get to help her get there! I have wanted a dog for myself for a long time, but having a short commitment of a year with a dog seemed like a good way to do it, and do something special for other people at the same time. It’s perfect for me at my age, since I don’t know where life will take me and committing to a dog forever would be a bit unfair on the animal if I had to move or my circumstances changed.
Has having Vashti made a difference in your life? How?
There are lots! I get to talk to lots of new people and they are always so happy to see her and hear about how the puppy raising program works. It’s a lot of fun walking down the street with her and watching everyone just melt when they see her. She also means I get out of bed at a decent hour on weekends to go for walks instead of sleeping away my day. Its takes someone special to do that!
Vashti has also given me something to love! She’s so easy to care for that it really hasn’t negatively impacted my life at all. I have to drive a lot now, when I used to ride everywhere, but thats about it. Totally worth it.
I had feared when I started that I would never be able to go out with friends again after, but it’s actually been great. If you have someone else in the house to take care of her you are set, and if not, well you can get a LOT done in three hours while she’s sleeping. And she’s a great excuse to get out of awkward dates!
Do you have any advice for people interested in becoming a Puppy Raiser?
I think most people have the idea that it isn’t meant for them, that you need to be retired, or work from home, and just never actually consider that they could be part of it. Depending on your job you totally can! It just takes the right environment at work and an office where everyone wants to help out. I wouldn’t be able to do it at all if I didn’t have my coworkers! They love her as much as I do.
I was petrified when I first signed up as I figured I was the exact wrong kind of person to raise a pup – I work full time, I never drove my car and I love hitting the pubs on weekends. But once my workplace was happy to have her, it’s been fun ever since. And I still go to pubs, but having her means I at least get home at a reasonable time!
My advice for people interested, or even those not interested is to give it some thought – a yes from your boss, a car, and a desire to help shape a little life is all it takes. Especially those considering getting a forever dog. Spend a year with a special little pup and help it become a special big pup for someone else. The amount you learn just from training them in the basics is more than enough to help you with your forever dog next year. I don’t think having a regular dog will ever be as rewarding as raising a pup to become a Guide Dog.
What do you say to someone who is worried about giving their puppy back?
We all know the grand purpose is to hand back a well-behaved little pup who is ready to go on their next big adventure with the trainers at Guide Dogs Victoria. It’s in the back of your mind everyday, and its just part of the job! I think it’s something to be proud of really. It’s a big commitment raising a pup, and everyone you meet will say the same thing: it must be sad to give them back, but just shrug it off. It’s the whole reason we are doing this in the first place!