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Volunteer Puppy Raisers: A joyful purpose

The Important Role of Volunteer Puppy Raisers at Canine Companions for Independence

Nine months ago when Chloe and I put our hands and paws to the keyboard to create Happy-Go-Doodle, it was hard to imagine that dog blogging would open doors to so many new adventures. On our most recent adventure, we met an amazing group of volunteer puppy raisers at the Kansas City Chapter of Canine Companions for Independence.

By loving dogs, people come together.

Red goldendoodle dog lying on green grass with paws in front of dog and stylish trophy for BlogPaws Nose-to-Nose Social Media and Blogging award for Best New Pet Blog and dog's favorite tennis ball

As the recipient of the 2017 BlogPaws social media award for best new pet blog, we had the honor and privilege of giving a donation to the nonprofit of our choice on behalf of sponsor, Pet360 Media. I chose the Kansas City Chapter of Canine Companions for Independence as the recipient. Through raising assistance dogs, they give greater independence to others. What a joyful purpose. The local chapter is part of the national organization with this mission:

Founded in 1975, Canine Companions for Independence® is a non-profit organization that enhances the lives of people with disabilities by providing highly trained assistance dogs and ongoing support to ensure quality partnerships. – Canine Companions for Independence

Not to mention, they do it all free of charge for adults, children and veterans with disabilities. 

In addition to presenting the donation, I was honored to be a guest at a chapter member field trip. I got to see the work of puppy raisers in action as we met Bowser, an eight-week-old puppy. He was arriving in Kansas City to begin his journey as a puppy in training.  

Canine Companions for Independence puppy's face with tongue out and message raise a puppy, change a life and logo of Kansas City Chapter of Canine Companions for Independence on blue background



This adorable fellow arrived at the airport and into the welcoming arms of a puppy raiser. Also, he was greeted by several other volunteers and a young pup in training. Bowser was ready with a smile for his new pack. As the team made sure he was all set to head to his new home, it was clear that his journey was already beginning.

Under the care of Sally, his puppy raiser, Bowser will…

  • learn over 30 commands
  • gain socialization skills by going on field trips to restaurants, fire stations, airports, festivals, and more 
  • receive special training from an approved trainer
  • enjoy lots of play time.

Bowser will be in Sally’s care for approximately 18 months. When he’s successfully completed this part of his adventure, Sally will have done her job as a puppy raiser and laid the foundation for his special future as an assistance dog. Bowser will then embark on a new journey to the North Central Regional Center where he will continue his professional training.

Yellow Labrador retriever puppy's face with tongue hanging out of mouth and second photo showing same puppy a few months older sitting patiently
They grow up so fast! Young Bowser had already learned many skills while in the care of his puppy raiser.

Meet the Puppy Raisers and Volunteers

A couple of months later, I got to see Bowser again at the Kansas City chapter meeting. Bowser and the other puppies in training patiently waited while the chapter members discussed upcoming events and field trips. Throughout the meeting, I learned about the generosity of this team of doers. Through their dedication and commitment to serving others, many of the volunteers had raised more than one puppy. Debbie and Linda took a team approach to puppy raising and shared in Nero’s care. Charon had raised 14 Canine Companions for Independence puppies. What an inspiration!

Canine Companions for Independence Kansas City chapter puppy raisers and volunteers standing with three dogs in training as chapter president accepts donation check from Happy-Go-Doodle founder who won a donation to non-profit as part of BlogPaws Best New Pet Blog win
Members in attendance at the Kansas City Chapter Meeting for Canine Companions for Independence: Debra, Sally, Puppy Bowser, Linda, Puppy Nero, Debbie, Roxanne, and in front, Charon and Puppy Dearborn.

Charon, Sally, Debbie, Linda, and all the other puppy raisers share their homes, time, and love with their pups in training.  Not only do they teach their pups good manners, commands, and socialization skills, they provide for them financially. This includes making sure the pups have everything they need–from food to medical visits to transportation. 

Puppy Raisers Support Each Other 

Additionally, the Kansas City volunteers have a spirit of community. The members take their pups on field trips to fire stations, restaurants, festivals, and even train rides. Bowser not only interacts with his own puppy raiser, but all the volunteers and puppies who are working toward a common goal.

Canine Companions for Independence Kansas City chapter puppy raiser kneeling by dog in training and accepting donation check from Happy-Go-Doodle founder who won a donation to non-profit as part of BlogPaws Best New Pet Blog win
Linda, President of the Kansas City Chapter of Canine Companions for Independence, Nero (Puppy in Training), and Jenise, founder Happy-Go-Doodle.

Raise a puppy, change a life

At the end of the meeting, I presented the donation check to Linda with puppy Nero’s help. As we posed for pictures, I noticed the message on Linda’s shirt: RAISE A PUPPY, CHANGE A LIFE. These very special future assistance dogs would transform the lives of others through their service and companionship. What a joy!

Dog gently sniffs a bobblehead of a goldendoodle dog

While Happy-Go-Doodle Chloe could not attend the chapter meeting, her look-a-like bobblehead was on hand for a meet and greet with the pups. An inquisitive Nero, had a happy “hello” sniff to share. 

Red goldendoodle dog with blue dog bandana lying on graww with tennis balls between dog's paws and balls each have one word laugh love joy

THANK YOU, puppy raisers and puppies in training

After all our adventures with the CCI crew, Chloe and I were happy to have met such wonderful pups and people. Because of the volunteer work of puppy raisers, dogs like Bowser are headed toward a very special future of giving independence and friendship to people who need them most.

What a joyful purpose. 

Would you like to learn more?

If you’d like to learn more about becoming a Canine Companions for Independence puppy raiser, visit

If you or someone you know might benefit from a Canine Companions for Independence assistance dog, visit, Is a Dog Right for You? at

Close-up of labrador puppies face with tongue hanging out and title a joyful purpose and canine companions for independence kansas city chapter logo

Thank you for sharing in our adventures.

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Stephanie Seger

Thursday 5th of October 2017

I love this so much! Thank you for your donation to such a worthy cause. My daughter and I have been volunteering for Power Paws for Assistance Dogs here in the valley for a couple years and would LOVE to raise a puppy one day. I keep telling my daughter, the next litter of yellow labs they have and it will be hard for me to resist. This is such an important role and means so much to the people who need these dogs for their disability.

Kamira Gayle

Thursday 5th of October 2017

What a great cause to be a part of. I'm always amazed and impressed at how many different ways our pets help us in our daily lives. Bless them and all the volunteers that help this organization.

Irene McHugh

Wednesday 4th of October 2017

Those are some incredible volunteers. Bernie is almost 18 months old. Even if I entered the relationship with him knowing he'd leave to serve someone else, I'm not certain I could do this job. These selfless volunteers have my utmost admiration!

Sandy Kubillus

Wednesday 4th of October 2017

I'd like to be a puppy raiser when I retire. I'm going to DogFest next weekend, which is a fundraising walk to support Canine Companions for Independence. They are a great group to support.


Thursday 5th of October 2017

That's great to hear! Maybe you'll share your experience on your blog? If so, I look forward to hearing about it.


Wednesday 4th of October 2017

I admire puppy raisers for their dedication and their ability to release the puppies to their new owners after 18 months. These puppy raisers are serial puppy raisers too 🐾❤️🐾😀


Thursday 5th of October 2017

Me too!

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