As part of our Puppy Love Month campaign, we asked some of our Puppy Raisers to write a letter to their puppy’s future handler, sharing a snapshot of all the work (and love) that goes into future Assistance Dogs. Reina and Jim are currently raising Addie, and recently shared a letter with us.

Puppy raisers help build strong foundations for our puppies who have the potential to become future Assistance Dogs. By raising a puppy for Dogs for Better Lives, you will become a part of a team dedicated to helping others. Changing the life of a family in need to live a more independent lifestyle with the help of the assistance dog you helped raise.

Interested in becoming a Puppy Raiser? Visit our Puppy Raising page for more information or to apply.

To: Addie's Future Person/Handler
From: Puppy Raisers Reina and Jim & Puppy in Training, Addie

To My Future Person/Handler,

Hi, my name is Addie. I am a beautiful Black Labrador Retriever and I am currently living with Reina and Jim. They are my puppy raisers for DBL. We have been very busy learning together about what it takes to raise an assistance puppy and what it takes to be an assistance puppy in training. There is so much I want to tell you.

First of all, I want to tell you what a privilege it is to be chosen for such a noble and wonderful mission. I am endeavoring to do my very best and to learn all I can so that I can advance to the next level of my training. I want to be as perfect an assistance dog for you as I possibly can.  Reina,  Jim and I work together every day to learn a new skill and to practice those skills so that I can generalize them and execute them flawlessly. EVENTUALLY!

So let me tell you what I am really good at now. I am only 3 ½ months old so I am still pretty young. I sit on command and maintain eye contact with Reina and Jim pretty consistently, I can go in down position and maintain for a few seconds, I sit patiently until given the OK to eat my food and I wait to be “free” from my crate before barging out of it. I will brag and say that I can do these skills 90% of the time. I can still get a little distracted sometimes.

Some of what is expected of me is a little more difficult to learn. Yet, I continue to diligently pay attention and to give it my all. What I find most difficult is that gentle leader thing they put on my nose! I don’t like it but I have improved so much! I am better at walking with it on especially when I am out in public. I like to show off to the public. I still try and paw it off my nose. I know I shouldn’t and yet I can’t help myself. But this too I am improving on. We are currently working on “leave it” and I must say I am doing very well with this particular skill. Reina and Jim notice it when we are out walking. I love to chew on bark and branches, which is not good form me. So we get to practice “Leave it” a lot.

There are some advanced skills like come, kennel, place, heel and stay that I am just starting to get introduced to but I can’t say as I have executed any of these with any consistency. But that is fine. I am still very young!

I suppose you would like to know something about me besides what I am learning. Reina and Jim tell me all the time how bright, beautiful, energetic, eager to please, and incredibly affectionate I am. I must say that this is an accurate assessment of me.

I don’t only spend my time learning how to be a good assistance puppy, I get lots of play time! I love to play fetch with Reina.  I have gotten really good at bringing the ball back, dropping it and looking up at Reina for my treat. I enjoy my early morning walks at 6:00am with Reina or Jim. They are usually in their pajama. They don’t like to get up as early as I do.  I also love to run around and sniff out all the critters have come and visited our yard in the night. I am mostly on a leash but it is long enough that I feel like I am “free.” We go on lots of car rides and I enjoy these very much. I get to listen to lots of different kinds of music. Classical, Rock, Jazz, Country.

A word from Reina and Jim: Addie is a joy to work with , play with and to love. Her eagerness, love, desire to please as well as her funny antics have brought such happiness and joy to our lives. We will miss Addie more than we can bare to think about but we are given solace by knowing what a productive, noble and selfless gift she will be providing to you. We are filled with pride to be part of the family of people who prepare Addie for the important job that lies ahead for her. She will be star!

With best Wishes,

Addie, Reina and Jim

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