Veterans Moving Forward, Inc., a Loudoun-based nonprofit organization that provides service dogs to veterans, is seeking local dog lovers to raise and train puppies for their program.
The commitment is typically 20 to 24 months, and all equipment and veterinary care is provided by VMF. Volunteers provide their time as well as a good home environment and food for the dog.
“The idea of raising a puppy to become a service dog appeals to a lot of people, including moms with young children and teenagers, but we’ve found that our most successful volunteers are dog-loving women and men without young children,” VMF Director of Canine Operations Michele Khol stated.
Volunteers who commit to the program receive a puppy at eight weeks old, and work with VMF both at home and three to four times per month at VMF’s Training Center in Dulles. In addition to socialization and behavior, the puppy is taught basic obedience and specialized skills, such as helping with laundry, fetching a water bottle from the fridge and fetching medication. At 16-17 months of age, the service dogs in training are ready to be matched with a veteran and begin advanced training that’s tailored to meet their veteran’s specific needs.
Optimal candidates to raise a puppy as a service dog are dog-loving women and men, who have no young children, have had a dog as an adult, have had some experience training a dog, are in good physical condition, and live within 30 miles of VMF’s Training Center in Dulles.
Those interested in helping may go to vetsfwd.org/raise-a-puppy or contact Director of Canine Operations Michele Khol at firstname.lastname@example.org.