Andrea is a lecturer in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Otago. Andrea and her partner Richard are the proud parents of Tesla, a 6 year old golden retriever, and they have just spent the last 12 months puppy raising Mobility pup Dalton. This is their story.
Prior to puppy raising with Mobility Dogs we did (and still do!) regular obedience dog training with Tesla. The trainer at our dog training classes was a Mobility Dogs puppy raiser herself, and there was often a well behaved Mobility Dog puppy ‘spectator’ at the classes. I asked her about it and that’s how I heard about Mobility Dogs and my interest in being a puppy raiser for them started.
The first puppy we raised was a black labrador named London. Being able to raise a puppy that will go on to help someone living with a disability and make a difference in their life was really motivating. Dog training such as basic obedience and manners, is something I find fun and rewarding so it was a win-win. London was a very well behaved boy but unfortunately was withdrawn from the program for health reasons.
The next puppy we got to raise was Dalton. A standard day with Dalton started with a short dog walk and some puppy play time before heading off to work at the University. Depending on the time of the year it would usually involve us going to several meetings around campus, a couple of lectures, and usually a trip to a café for coffee. This gave Dalton the chance to have a range of experiences throughout the day which are all training opportunities for him. Throughout the day he would receive many compliments about how cute he was, but no pats are allowed while wearing his jacket, which is standard service dog protocol. At the end of the day we would head home to have some playtime with Tesla, and then Dalton would sleep the night away.
He always tried to please us by bringing us little gifts that he found throughout his day. The most useful thing was when we lost the cap off the petrol lawn mower, and then about a month later Dalton found it in a bush and brought it to us.
Dalton was always quite busy however as he got older, he got better at lying around and just ‘doing nothing,’ which is also an important skill to have. He’s by far the happiest dog I’ve ever met. He is always pumped to be out and about, he’s very enthusiastic about everything in life and he doesn’t have a lazy bone in his body, which will serve him well in his career as a service dog.
Even though we knew from the start that he was not going to be our puppy forever, it was still sad when he left us. But the fact that he was moving on to the next stage in his training and will hopefully go on to help transform someone’s life made it worthwhile.
He really bought so much fun and laughter into our lives, and we found it to be such a rewarding experience.