Puppy Raiser Profile
Juliana is a full time veterinary student. She raised Labrador, Warren, who went on to graduate from the training program to work as a Guide Dog.
What did you like about being a Puppy Raiser?
The best part of being a puppy raiser is feeling extremely rewarded after having raised a working Guide Dog! I really enjoyed the process of training Warren as a puppy and being able – and encouraged – to take a friend with me everywhere I went.
Why did you become a Puppy Raiser?
I have always loved having dogs in my life. After my previous Labrador passed away at the end of 2013, I decided I wanted a break from having pets. However, when I saw on the Guide Dogs Victoria website that I can raise a puppy and contribute to someone’s future independence, I thought – that’s a year of commitment, and it will probably keep me distracted from the loss of my old friend for a while. So, I signed up, and that’s when I met Warren!
How did puppy raising fit into your schedule?
To be honest, having a Guide Dog puppy at home is not easy. I do all of the training myself, and puppies aren’t usually travel-ready until they are around 10 months old. They need to be mentally stable and calm, but it can also depend on each dog’s specific behavioural response to traffic and crowded places.
Luckily, being a veterinary student, I was able to take Warren to my lectures and leave him with the receptionists at the clinic when I had practical classes. Full credit to the amazing people at Werribee animal hospital! I loved taking my pups to classes with me. Warren kept me company during lectures and active during breaks. Warren was very calm in lectures. He would do his own thing right next to me and never bothered anyone else in class.
We would do training at least four times a week. This included walking to the train station, taking the train to shopping centre or heading into the city. As he slowly become more familiar with train and tram rides, uni life has become a part of their routine too.
I would also take him to a local dog park every afternoon, so he could enjoy spending time and playing with his friends in the park.
At the end of it all, I’d say although it sounds like a lot, puppy raising with a university workload wasn’t too hard at all. In fact, I’d say if anything, they help me to de-stress a lot!
What is your advice for returning puppies to training?
On the day when the puppy advisor came in to my house with this tiny, adorable Guide Dog puppy, my heart just melted. This little animal was going to be a part of my life for the next twelve months. It was so exciting.
I got questions and comments from friends: ‘how will you give him back? I wouldn’t be able to do it’. And yes, giving the puppy back is definitely one of the hardest parts of the Puppy Raising experience.
However, when I signed up, I told myself I would do my best to train this dog so he can partner with someone in the future. Someone who really needs the skills of this brilliant dog I’ve raised. I was completely dedicated with Warren.
Warren was my first Guide Dog puppy and he managed to pass all of the Guide Dog training. He was matched with a person last year – an 18-year-old young man who is about to enter university. Words can’t describe how proud I was for my puppy to help someone.
Let go of your worries, give the training your best shot, and spend all the time you can with these adorable, amazing animals.
That way, at the end of the day, whatever happens, you’ll feel like a proud Puppy Parent!
Do you have any advice for people interested in becoming a Puppy Raiser?
If you are interested and willing to do the best for the puppies, give them the best training possible, love them, and spoil them (in a good way!) as much as possible for the time you’re together, I would say:
Do not hesitate to get involved and become a Puppy Raiser!
Honestly, it is really, incredibly rewarding as an experience.