If you join us for a Worship service you will likely see a 4 legged friend or two. Members Mark and Tammy Doering raise and train puppies for National Service Dogs. Read their story:
Our Puppy Raising Journey
It seems like just yesterday, but it’s been 10 years since I started on this journey of raising service puppies for National Service Dogs. This agency provides, free of charge, a certified service dog for a child with Autism to help keep that child safe first and foremost and eventually help that child navigate their world.
We began this journey due to our beloved family pet Chelsea passing away. I had seen these service pups out in the community and started to look into what was involved. It wasn’t long before our first puppy was placed with us. As with any new endeavour, there is a learning curve. Couple that with an overly excitable/aggressive puppy and unfortunately, things did not go well. He was removed from my care and due to other circumstances ended up career changed.
Moving on I was given another pup to raise and train. To say every pup is different is an understatement. This new pup was a dream. A little excitable but very willing to learn and work. He too unfortunately was career changed but I was determined to carry on. Like I was told by a trainer at the agency, not all dogs were meant to work, some were just meant to be ‘beach bums’!
Over the years, and through many different pups, I have gained a valuable insight into the agency, how these dogs change the lives of their new families and how grateful they are to everyone who has been a part of this pup’s life. It makes you feel grateful for what you’ve been given in life and that you are able to ‘pay it forward’ for someone else. With each pup comes some new learned techniques, challenges and triumphs, but it all makes for an interesting year plus, until they are ready to move on to their advanced training. Or NSD University as they like to call it. Ten years later we have our 9th pup in the house and are still going strong. I have enjoyed every minute of it, and yes there were times when a head to toe muddy pup at the door, or the golf course being created in the backyard seemed overly daunting, but looking back, it was all worth it knowing how these families can live a better, less stressed life. And all it took was some training, lots of love and wet kisses from an adorable puppy that I was able to enjoy for a short time. Who can say no to that?
I keep track of most of my pups I have raised. The families are often very good at connecting with updates and pictures. Seeing the happiness on their faces, and hearing how their lives have changed makes this a labour of love through and through. I am happy that I am able to play a small part in that.
Tammy Doering –National Service Dog Puppy Raiser since 2009