We started puppy raising as a family in 2016. One of my daughters, Elena was keen on dog training and we thought it would work really well with our homeschooling. The skills and experience she has gained have been great and we have loved being involved with Mobility Dogs – an amazing organisation that helps people in such a wonderful way. Each puppy you are entrusted with gains a few of your heartstrings, and Blake is no exception. He started off being raised by Veronica Garcia Gill, and he came to us when he was about 5 or 6 months old.
He was a keen dog with a very caring personality, always ready to carry something or wait for the next instruction. We were so hopeful he would do well and go on to be a great Mobility Dog for a client. Elena was involved and filmed with him for Dog Squad: Puppy School, and we loved seeing him go through his prison training. Having the insight into what they do on the Puppies in Prison programme was great, and he passed with flying colours.
At the end of last year we got to hear the sad news that because of health issues, Blake would not be placed full-time with a client. He was offered back to us as a pet which both Mobility Dogs and myself were quite reluctant about, as he is such a willing worker and we both felt he needed a job. He now works as a Therapy Dog, working with special needs people and the elderly. It is a part-time job which suits both him and me well.
Together, he and I focus on developing a therapeutic relationship with specific clients that can really benefit from having a dog in their lives. The changes in those people’s lives that we have seen so far are just amazing. Hearing that the client now has a reason to get out of bed is really great. Blake is getting to know them and gets all excited when he sees them.
A couple of unexpected bonuses have come out of this whole situation for me as well. Firstly, next year I will no longer be homeschooling after nearly 18 years. Having something to continue with and build on with Blake will be an exciting venture. Secondly having a permanent dog has had an unexpected positive effect on my life. Being a person that suffers from depression, having Blake in my life and being able to build such a close bond with him has been so incredibly positive for me. He is always there, willing to help, and forever trusting.
I feel so fortunate every day when I see my handsome boy that this wonderful organisation has entrusted me with this great dog. Blake and I will continue to help to change people’s lives.
Written by Puppy Raiser Pytha Saunders
Acknowledgment for the photo of Blake: Carol Howell