Meet Emerald, a Black Labrador Retriever with a heart full of love and a mission to make a difference in the world. Her journey at Dogs for Better Lives from a playful puppy to a Certified Hearing Assistance Dog was filled with dedication, hard work, and an entire community of support. Her team of supporters included her Puppy Raisers Megan and Claire, DBL’s Puppy Program Team, and DBL’s Assistance Dog Trainers. Read on for some of Emerald’s milestones throughout her journey.
June 2022 – July 2022
Emerald’s journey began in June of 2022 when she was placed with Puppy Raisers Megan and Claire. The mother-daughter duo had just turned their first DBL Puppy in for professional training, and Emerald was ready to fill their home and hearts with love. Megan, Claire, and Emerald quickly formed a bond as Emerald started learning basic commands like sit, down, stay, and leash walking. She also adapted well to family life, playing with her Golden Retriever brothers, Finley and Tucker.
August 2022 – October 2022
As the months passed, Emerald grew both in size and intelligence. Her Puppy Raisers diligently exposed her to various environments and noises, helping Emerald build confidence. Emerald had some challenges, including vest sensitivity, so she spent about a month at DBL’s West Campus for evaluation and extra support from our staff. The Puppy Program Team and Certified Trainers at DBL worked with Megan and Claire, ensuring they had the support they needed to help Emerald be successful.
November 2022 – February 2023
Megan and Claire worked creatively to make wearing the Service Dog vest a positive experience for Emerald. Emerald also had her first experiences snow, and her playful and energetic personality shone through. Despite occasional stubbornness that often comes with adolescent puppies, Emerald’s training progressed, and Claire shared a heartfelt letter about their experiences.
March 2023 – May 2023
Emerald’s pup-dates in the Spring of 2023 showcased her boundless energy and love for people and dogs. Her training included outings, commands, and exposure to distractions. Emerald celebrated her first birthday, marking a significant milestone in her journey.
June 2023 – July 2023
Emerald officially graduated from the DBL Puppy Program in June, returning to DBL’s West Campus for formal training. Megan and Claire cherished their last moments with Emerald, recognizing her growth over the past year. The next chapter of Emerald’s journey began as she embarked on her professional Service Dog training.
August 2023 – January 2024
Under the guidance of Apprentice Assistance Dog Trainer, Eli, Emerald continued her training at the West Campus. Emerald quickly progressed through sound work, obedience, and worked through her gear sensitivity, Emerald showcased her intelligence and adaptability. She excelled in her training, overcoming her challenges and reaching the milestone of becoming a Certified Hearing Dog in December 2023.
When Emerald’s placement week arrived in January, and Eli and DBL Field Representative Laura braved snow and ice to take Certified Hearing Dog Emerald to her new client’s home. Emerald quickly bonded with her new client and enjoyed all the love and attention from her new family. In public, her client is looking forward to having Emerald as a social bridge, helping others around her know she has hearing loss. In the home, Emerald will be working the oven timer, door knock, smoke alarm, and name call.
Congratulations Emerald, and THANK YOU to our donors and volunteers!
Emerald’s journey is a testament to the dedication of the entire DBL community. So many people came together in support of Emerald, helping to make independence possible for a deserving client. From her Puppy Raisers Megan and Claire, to DBL staff, to donors, each played a crucial role in shaping Emerald into the Certified Hearing Assistance Dog she is today. Thank you to everyone who supported Emerald in her journey.
About Puppy Raising
Puppy Raisers are a critical part of a puppy’s journey towards becoming an Assistance Dog. Our puppy raisers receive a puppy at eight (8) weeks of age and continue to raise the puppy until it is between 14 to 16 months of age. During their time raising, they attend basic obedience classes with their puppies. They also go on public outings to expose the puppies to a multitude of different environments. After the year of raising and training, the puppies are ready to return to Dogs for Better Lives to begin their next step towards becoming an Assistance Dog. As in Emerald’s case, Puppy Raisers enjoy the support of DBL staff and the broader Puppy Raising community, ensuring the best outcomes for our future Assistance Dogs. Learn more at dogsforbetterlives.org/get-involved.
About Hearing Assistance Dogs
Hearing Assistance Dogs are trained to alert people to household sounds that are necessary for everyday safety and independence. They are trained to alert to sounds by making physical contact (jumping on you, or nosing you) then leading you to the sound. Additionally, many of our Hearing Dogs are also trained and certified for public access. Learn more about Hearing Assistance Dogs and apply at dogsforbetterlives.org/hearing-dogs