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Tammy is a repeat volunteer Puppy Raiser with Dogs for Better Lives who just picked up her 4th DBL Program Puppy, Gizmo. We recently interviewed her about her experiences as a Puppy Raiser over the years. From the joy of early learning stages to the challenges of puppyhood, Tammy sheds light on what it takes to prepare future Service Dogs and why it’s a rewarding endeavor for anyone considering it. She even dispels some common myths about Puppy Raising. Read on for our Q&A with Tammy.

Tammy picked up DBL Program Puppy Gizmo in late January. Gizmo is the 4th puppy she will raise a volunteer Puppy Raiser

Q: Why did you become a Puppy Raiser? Was there one specific moment that nudged you to get started?

As a stay-at-home mom of teenagers, and I felt that I wasn’t needed by them as much as I previously was. I wanted to do something that would scratch that itch of being needed.


Q: You just received your latest puppy, Gizmo. What is he like so far?

Gizmo is awesome! He is a good mix of crazy puppy and snuggle puppy. He has the most expressive eyebrows and is crazy about ice cubes. He is working hard on the basics and seems to be picking things up nicely.

Q: What do your friends and family think about the fact that you’re puppy raiser?

My friends really like that I raise puppies because it means that they get to love on the cute puppies. Everyone thinks that I am amazing for doing this because they think that it must be so hard to give them back.


Q: What is your favorite part about raising future Service Dogs?

My favorite part is the early stages of learning. I like watching their little brains working to figure things out, and then being so proud once they do.


Q: What’s the hardest part?

The hardest part is the very beginning. Puppies require a lot of attention when they are young, they are very much like toddlers. Everything goes in their mouth and it’s a mouth full of really sharp teeth.

You can’t just walk out of the room to do something without making sure the puppy is safely contained or that someone else is watching them. You need to keep track of when they have gone potty to set them up for success with their potty training, and they don’t always sleep through the night.

Tammy shows off her Puppy Love with DBL Program Puppy Gizmo posing in a Valentine’s themed photoshoot.


Q: Some people are worried they don’t have what it takes, or will be “on their own” raising a puppy. What would you say to that concern?

That is definitely something that you shouldn’t be worried about, this is the best way to get a puppy, they come with all the instructions you need. They literally come with a puppy raising manual and videos and one on one support!

If I have ever had a concern all I have had to do is send a text to our puppy coordinator and I get a whole list of things to do or try or we make a time for them to come over to work on it in person. The group classes are great because you can connect with other raisers and get to practice working with distractions.


Q: What would you say to get someone off the fence about becoming a Puppy Raiser?

It is a really rewarding experience. The things you think are going to be hard really aren’t, and you are never alone in this process.


Q: What do you wish people knew about puppy raising?

I wish that people knew it’s not that hard to give them back. I know that sounds like I haven’t been totally in love with each puppy that I have raised, which isn’t true. However you get them knowing they will leave someday and that when they do they are going to have a wonderful life and make someone else’s life so much better.

Are you ready to step up and raise a future Service Dog? Visit dogsforbetterlives.org/get-involved to learn more and apply.


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