OUR PUPPY RAISERS ARE
The Foundation FOR our puppies.
OUR Service Dog HANDLER TEAMS ARE
THE REASON FOR OUR VISION!
THE COMPASSION FOR ALL HUMANS TO HAVE FUNCTIONAL INDEPENDENTS ARE
THE REASON FOR OUR EDUCATIONAL WORKSHOPS FOR THE COMMUNITY AT LARGE!
And so much more…
In Ruth’s words: Being a Puppy Raiser is an honor. To improve and change the life of someone with a disability and allow them to participate in their community, in their job and be involved with their friends and family is very heartwarming. As a Puppy Raiser you can make this difference. You give your heart and soul to a young pup, teach them the basics of life and prepare them for “college” with the professional trainers.
A Puppy Raisers job is 24/7, with lots of love, and, of course, treats. You will receive a pup shortly after they are weaned from their Mom and litter, they are as scared and nervous as you might be. It is up to you to give them the love, guidance and reassurance they need to become that awesome Service Dog later on.
I would like to introduce Sir Baldwin, a Standard Poodle, and one of the first Service Dogs to be trained for Mobility Service Dogs-West Coast Project. He is now 5 months old. He literally goes everywhere with me, some good days and some not so good or productive. He is more than willing to listen and learn to all that is presented to him. In the first couple of months he must have thought his second name was "NO," but we are progressing with all of his commands. I received a book from Mobility Service Dogs with all of the goals expected of a Mobility Service Dog, basic training guide lines, some of the command words they want incorporated in Baldwin's commands, and suggested articles and videos on dog care. Baldwin has a best friend: my kitty named Oreo. Oreo is basically an inside cat but is allowed out on our patio for outdoor play time. Baldwin watches over her the best he can.
Being a Puppy Raiser is a very large commitment, hard work, but so very rewarding when your pup graduates and is placed with a well-deserving person of need. Hopefully, and in most cases, puppy raisers stay in touch with this person and can hear and/or watch their pup blossom. Then, if you really love puppy raising, as I do, you get another pup to raise and continue the goals of the organization.
As you can see, Baldwin puts up with a lot of my goofy ideas, but is well socialized and has great manners (most of the time). He goes to baseball games, parties, plays, concerts, on train rides, trolley rides, and lots of everyday life shopping, etc.
Update: Sir Baldwin is now 10 months old. I received him at about 10 weeks old and we have come a long way. He is exceptional with all of his commands, polite, attentive, and very good out in the public. I allowed petting by strangers up until about 5 months old and then we had to concentrate more on his working skills and attention. He loves children and is told to sit or lay down as he is such a big boy. He goes grocery shopping, mall shopping, any and all stores, restaurants, concerts, plays and rides anything from a train to a bus, trolleys, boats, and of course a car. He is an excellent traveler on long trips. He will soon be ready for his forever partner and trained for the specific skills needed by that person.
Update: December 16, 2018, Sir Baldwin moved on to his next level of training. He is a rockstar, thank you Ruth!
In Darlene’s words: My name is Darlene, and I was approached by Mobility Service Dogs West Coast Project to be a puppy raiser for the disabled. The puppy that I have received to raise is a standard poodle named Tango, and he is one that has a lot of personality, curiosity, and intelligence. I can immediately tell he will be a great service dog for someone.
I have my disabilities of multiple sclerosis and degenerative spine disease. I have trained my dogs, and their instincts have served me well in helping me deal with my random ms symptoms of balance, fatigue and getting me through healing times from spinal surgeries. People that knew me and the dogs in my life were always amazed at how we were there for each other and the responsiveness they gave. Most of my dogs were rescue dogs. I took care of them, and they took care of me.
Being a puppy raiser is fun in teaching them new things and sharing their first adventures. I have spent a lot of one on one time with dogs, and they make a difference in a person’s life. Given how many people are on a waiting list for service dogs, it is a pleasure to be a very small part in helping make a difference in someone else's life. I know from personal experience that when no one else can be there, a dog always is. With my disabilities and being Tango's puppy raiser, I know that his work has already begun.
Update: January 2019, Tango and Darlene will continue as a Mobility Service Dog in Training Team working towards being an SD Team. Great work, Darlene, you two are amazing!
In Janie’s words: After a severe shoulder and SPI base injury Spring of 2010, I had no idea of the world ahead. Phoebe was my two-year-old well-trained pet that my four children and husband surprised me with on my 50th; she's fantastic! In the fall, my O.T., P.T. and Spine Specialist strongly advise me to apply for a Service Dog because it would offer me the independence I longed to own again. A Service Dog does not work that way but I could barely take care of myself let alone another dog. O.T. convinced a Service Dog Trainer in Elkgrove to work with me. $6500.00 later, Phoebe was successfully trained and with my arm crutches and rockstar Service Dog I began the journey to walking again! Phoebe gave me back my functional independence, grateful. Time for Phoebe to retire at 11 years! Samuel ‘Beckett’ entered my world on January 4! Today, 21 days shy of his 1-year-old birthday (21.Oct.2017) His x-rays and training markers now allows him to function at my side in full harness as of 3 days ago! Beckett has learned to push buttons, turn on lights, counterbalance me for walking, catches me when I fall. He picks up dropped credit cards and is learning to force open doors with a bar, not a button. Beckett makes it possible for me to live a full and vibrant life. Deeply touched and grateful to his trust, brilliance, and extreme calm demeanor. Each day we learn a new task as we perfect the true tested ones. He loves to travel by car, boat, plane, or train. My life is free because he is at my side! Working with my Service Dog Trainer and Relationship Dog Trainer- it is a very hands on interactive experience.
I have had the honor of assisting trainers as they trained Phoebe, Maya, and now Beckett. MSD-WCP is a gift to many!
In Jae’s words: The prospect of raising a dog from a clumsy puppy into a full- fledged service dog, all while being disabled yourself can seem like a handful. Not many people know that it’s actually a significantly rewarding and surprisingly fun process.
My retired service dog, Hemingway, was the first dog I got at 10 weeks old. I decided to raise him into my service dog with the assistance of professionals. I remember looking at this dog that couldn’t even take three steps without tripping on his foot, and I expected this animal to stop me from tripping on my feet when he gets older. But what you don’t hear about much is the unbreakable bond you build, the laughs, the joyful crying the first time your dog accomplishes a task flawlessly without having to lure them. You don’t hear about every outing being an adventure. The stores you shop in on a weekly basis become your training grounds; you discover new spaces each time you go. Raising a service dog has taught me a lot about patience, and it’s led me to discover a lot of passions I have.
Now that I have a puppy again, Lynx, I’m back to staring the clumsiest animal in the eyes and hoping that one day he’ll save me when I’m my clumsiest, and it’s honestly very exciting. Disabilities are unique: people tend to share symptoms, but it’s very rare that any condition is identical between two people. So when you get a puppy and make the decision to raise him, you get this blank slate that’s completely customizable to you or to the recipient. You know exactly what tasks you do or don’t need, what kind of obedience is most important to your lifestyle. I think it’s something that’s worth a shot. There are many pleasant surprises waiting to be discovered along the journey.
Update: November 2018, Lynx was retired as a Service Dog and is being loved up as a pet. February 2019, Jae has Frankie who is a poodle mix who is amazingly brilliant as he is a SDiT! Well done, Jae!
In Jennifer’s word: I am a web designer, photographer and surfer. I have started 3 puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Oliver Orchid is my first Mobility Service Dog Puppy and first Poodle.
Update: February 10, 2019, Oliver moved on to his evaluation and next phase of training. Thank you, Jennifer!
Heather & Tabitha Hellman
In Heather’s words: Watching my amazing, kind, hard working, smart, capable daughter unable to get up off the floor is devastating. Trying to help her make it to school each morning and helping her face the defeat of not going is heartbreaking. Hearing the thud of her unconscious body hitting the floor after she passes out, that is perhaps the scariest thing of all. I have watched my daughter’s world narrow under the symptoms of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome for the past two years, but now finally thanks to Edison and Mobility Service Dogs West Coast Project, there is hope, her world is starting to open again and my fears for her are subsiding.
Edison is my daughter’s service dog in training. The hope is that Edison will be able to medically alert her before she passes out so she can be in a safe seated or lying down position, preventing things like her previous concussion and sprained wrist. He will also serve as mobility support, giving her counterbalance and stability so on the days that her dizziness is so extreme she can only stumble and fall, she will be able to walk instead. We hope that by teaming up with Edison she will be able to regain independence and go to college in two years.
Edison just came to us but already he is bringing a lot of hope and a lot of learning. Finally my daughter has something positive to focus on related to her illness. His care and training adds a new sense of purpose to her days and pride instead of embarrassment. Now she won’t be known as the girl who misses so much school, but as the girl with the dog. It is not without its challenges though. Because he is so young and isn’t quite ready for school yet, I am Co training Edison with her. It feels a bit like we have a toddler in the house again, we have to watch his every move. We also have to take him with us everywhere to expose him to as much as possible. That can be full of missteps and learning experiences. We have to do a lot of explaining as to why he is behaving a certain way, what his purpose is, and what he is doing there. It has served as a great opportunity to educate people both about service dogs and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. It is also teaching us a bit about parenting and grand parenting as my daughter has seen how my husband and I have screwed up our other dog children and she is not willing to let that happen to Edison, but she is also not always appreciative of the advice we give from the wisdom we have gained from our mistakes over the years. Edison is bringing much life and levity back into our house though.
It took two years of frustration to get a medical diagnosis for my daughter but it took only two months for Mobility Dogs West Coast Project to match us with Edison. Janie and her community went above and beyond to research Tabitha’s illness and find a trainer that could give her the tools to train Edison for medical alert too. I wasn’t very fond of poodles before meeting Edison, but he has changed my view completely. Our family and our support community are all profoundly grateful for Janie and Mobility Dogs!
Elizabeth Corbyn Staehli
In Lizzie’s words: My experience so far of being a raiser has not been long and I have much to learn and I can’t wait to learn as much as I can. Hampton shows more improvement everyday and is incredible out in public places especially restaurants he loves sleeping under the tables. I have never met a dog with a better temperament and I don’t know if I ever will.
When at work my coworkers are astonished with his age because of how calm he is and how he acts like an adult dog since the moment I brought him home at 9 weeks. I love the bond you get with these puppies and how you get to watch them grow and strive to help someone in who will really need it.
UPDATE: Hampton has flown with one of his Service Dog Trainers, Gina, to Little Rock, AK to meet his forever handler Dani! All is going well. Thank you, Lizzie!
WATCH FOR PUPPY RAISER & GIFFORD RAISING…
SERVICE DOG TRAINER ANNA…
In Catrina’s words: My daughter Cailee was diagnosed at the age of two with a very rare retinal disease known as FEVR. I was told that she may go blind, that there is no cure, no treatments, and it’s nothing but wait and see. Over the past six years, Cailee has endured five eye surgeries and countless obstacles, including vision loss.
We have tried to prepare her as much as we can through education and introducing her to leaders in the community, but I always knew there were more opportunities out there, if we were given the chance.
After searching and searching for an organization that would allow a child to be involved in puppy raising, I finally found Mobility Service Dogs West Coast Project who would allow my daughter and I to raise a SDiT!! Cailee will get to experience while she still has sight all the hard work involved in growing up a Service Dog.
My ultimate goal for Cailee and for the families of visually impaired children is to get them involved in puppy raising to empower them. I want Cailee to know that she is totally capable, able to achieve anything she works at and is determined to do. I hope to help break the stereotype that visually impaired children can’t have service animals. Cailee and Arthur are an amazing team as we raise him to be a SD. Even I couldn’t have imagined this kind of bond and love!
Update: November 2018, Arthur is with his forever SD Handler doing mobility work and he is amazing! Thank you, Catriena and Cailee!
Puppy Raiser Caretakers- Brittany, Felicity, Victoria, & Jamie Jarabek
Victoria's Words at age 6: "I want to teach Edison manners so he can help people. People who have trouble with mobility need a dog that they can depend on. For these people, it is like, well, stand on one leg. You wobble a lot. That is what it is like for them all the time, and they are on two legs. So they really need a dog to help them balance, with walking, with picking up things, with opening doors. It is my job to teach Edison manners, walking, focusing, not to nibble, and be a really good dog, so he can do all these things. I know about these things because of my Nene. My Nene walks with arm crutches or is in a wheelchair if she doesn't have her mobility service dog. Her dog makes her so she can do anything with me. My Nene shows me tricks and things to do to teach Edison manners. I think Edison is going to be really big, so he needs to know how to do things proper, so he doesn't get himself into trouble. I walk Edison, teach him tricks, and teach him about the world. He is only a puppy, so really he gets distracted a lot, but we are really working on focus this week." Felicity's Words at age 3: “Service dogs help people do things. Beckett helps my Nene walk. Oscar will help someone see who is blind. Mama Lotus helps people who are feeling the angers in their feet. I love Gertrude. She is very sweet. She sits with me while I eat. I am teaching her not to take my food. I walk with her in her harness. I give her love so she can give love to someone else. Love is the most important. She will help people as a service dog. She is so cute. I love helping her. When I am 12, my mommy says I can be a puppy raiser all on my own. How long till I am 12?"
Brittany’s words: Our family is raising puppies for Mobility Service Dogs West Coast Project in the interim, while families are found. Having two dogs of our own and having been around dogs all of our lives, it is a joy having Gertrude and Edison with us short term. My daughters are learning great responsibility and empathy. It is a joy. Our day starts with outdoor play time, a training session, walking Victoria to School, running errands, playdates, and then picking Victoria up. We really emphasize their vest-time versus collar-time, to help the girls and the puppies understand playing versus working. Being a puppy raiser is a huge commitment but a joyful one. We alternate taking Edison and Gertrude with us on outings, BUT we ALWAYS have one of the puppies with us at all times. As a board member, it has been both humbling and a true privilege to partake in the puppy raising experience for these short weeks. We cannot wait to see where life takes Edison and Gertrude. They are both rockstar puppies!
Update: September 2018, Edison is with his Handler doing both Mobility and Medical Alert as a SDiT! September 2018 Gertrude is a pet adopted by an amazing family, sweetest!
In Dina’s words: My name is Dina Zidan and I became a puppy raiser in order to provide freedom to those with disabilities. It’s a truly magical and rewarding experience to take a puppy that isn’t even potty trained and help transform it into a service animal that becomes a source of independence for someone.
I have raised 2 successful puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind and hope to continue to raise successful puppies with Mobility Service Dog - West Coast Project.
Update: January 2019, Carmine is working with her forever SD Handler doing mobility and PSTD work! Thank you, Dina.
Kristen & Bombay
As told over the phone to Janie by Kristen: We are the First MSDiT Team that the co-founder Janie matched. I am an ADA Handler, and Bombay is my second mobility service dog. Bombay was rescued from a shelter by a friend of MSD-WCP in Los Angeles at about 14 months of age and was a great fit. I met Janie and learned about MSD-WCP online in a Service Dog Forum.
Mobility Service Dogs West Coast could not get the insurance we needed to cover raisers if they took in rescue dogs. Janie regrouped, and I was a perfect match. We did our training in the big state of Texas
As of December 2018, we are a fully functioning Mobility Service Dog Team. Due to the nature of my work, I am unable to share details or have a photo listed.
I can share that the last 24 days of my life I have been traveling on business and visiting family and friends. First time in 12 years that I have able to travel alone without a companion to help me! Thank you MSD-WCP and especially thank you to Janie, you are fantastic.
SDiT Forever TEAM DANIELLE Huskey & HAMPTON
In Dani’s words: For the past few years I have been limited by my mobility, and unable to live a full and functional life. Although Hamilton and I have only been together for a few short weeks, he has already learned to notify me when something is not “right” with my body. We are learning to walk together as one unit, which not only amazes me, but gives me such hope and a newfound determination. I look forward to continuing our training and the many adventures I know we will have! To be able to leave my home without the worry of falling is a gift that I can’t thank MSD-WCP enough for! I feel so fortunate and so very blessed! Danielle Huskey, age 50, Chronic illnesses
WATCH FOR SDiT TEAM HEATHER & CARMINE…
SERVICE DOG TRAINER DENISE…
Mobility Service Dogs-West Coast Project welcoming our newest Mobility Service Dogs in Training (MSDiT) at our Poodle Puppy Pickup Workshop Party with GrowingUpGuidePup.org (GUGP)!
Welcome to Dina Zidan with Carmin, Jennifer Zweben with Oliver Orchard, Lizzie Staehli with Hampton, and Ajwa Badu our Puppy Sitter! And Amie Chapman with Pixie who is part of our community but is raising for GUGP.
Life is sweetest when it’s full of puppy breath and great humans with big hearts.
Puppy Raisers AND more…
Kristen, Texas- SD HANDLER
Ruth Miille, Arizona- RETIRED
Catrina Frost, Arizona- RETIRED
Jae Hemingway, Southern California, SD Handler
Janie Heinrich, Southern California, SD HANDLER
Lizzie Staehi, Washington
Jennifer Zwenben, Northern California. RETIRED
Darlene Melvin, Nevada, SD HANDLER
Awuradjoa Quansah, California (MSD-WCP Official Puppy Sitter)-RETIRED
Heather & Tabitha Hellman, Washington. SD HANDLER
Dina Ziden, Northern California - RETIRED
Brittany, Victoria, Felicity, & Jamie Jarabek, Northern California (MSD-WCP Puppy Sitter & Placement Accessors)
Deborah Stephens, Northern Washington. (MSD-WCP Puppy Sitter, Foster Care, and Lover of Poodles!)
Amie Chapman, Northern California (Raising for GUGP, part of our community meetups and Board). Forever GUGP raiser!
Victoria & Nicole, Washington (Adoption of Gertrude as a family pet)