A growing demand for service dogs amid the pandemic has one Massachusetts organization on the hunt for full-time puppy raisers. NEADS World Class Service Dogs, of Princeton, made the announcement on Tuesday that they are looking to recruit volunteer puppy raisers in the Massachusetts, Southern New Hampshire and Rhode Island areas, to help them train their service dogs, WHDH reported.
“The added stressors and isolation created by the COVID-19 pandemic has made the need for our highly-trained service dogs more critical than ever before,” NEADS CEO Gerry DeRoch said to the news outlet.
Couples, families and retirees are all encouraged to apply on the NEADS site, according to the organization’s release.
In order to “successfully” socialize and train the dogs, a certain level of energy, time commitment and endless love is required. The organization defines socializing as following outlined field trip levels to expose the dog to everyday life in public settings, including malls, restaurants and grocery stores so they can get comfortable being around people and familiarize themselves with the various sounds and sights.
There are a number of requirement candidates must follow over the 12- to 16-month period. These include a weekly training session with a NEADS trainer, virtual classes held at the NEADS campus or a location, mutually convenient for the raisers and trainer, and essential care 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
For example, a puppy can only be left alone for a maximum of two hours, and three to four hours as they get older, according to the organization. Additional teachings include crate and house training, daily training, socialization and physical exercising.
NEADS provides all the food and medical care, so the only expense on behalf of the raiser and trainer are the supplies, a crate, dog bowls, chew toys, training toys and a long leash. All the hugs and kisses are free.
“While we realize the commitment that we ask our Full-Time Puppy Raisers to make is a major one, we also cannot reinforce enough how meaningful this process is for the Raisers,” DeRoche said.
“Our volunteers have the once-in-a-lifetime experience (or hopefully more!) of preparing these amazing dogs for a career of helping others with disabilities, including those who are deaf or physically disabled, children who have autism, or veterans who have PTSD; or providing therapeutic assistance in a variety of professional settings."