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One couple picks up their 20th dog to raise for Guide Dogs of the Desert

Guide Dogs of the Desert is a nonprofit organization that pairs dogs with people who are blind or visually impaired at no cost to them.

Jennifer Heggie is the director of development with the organization. She said, “If we didn’t have our puppy raiser volunteers, we would have to quadruple our staff.” The entire process from when the puppy is born to the time the dog goes home with its partner costs the organization $80,000. Guide Dogs of the Desert is always looking for more donations, especially during a time of the pandemic where they are considered an essential business.

Heggie said these guide dogs are life changing. She added, “Some people come to us are receiving a dog for the first time. They say it increases their mobility, they’re able to go out and do things that they normally wouldn't be able to do.”

Volunteers, or puppy raisers, help raise and nurture the dogs for the first 18 months before they go into their next training process.

One couple, the Carey's, have raised puppies with Guide Dogs of the Desert for 20 years. On November 23, 2020, they picked up their 20th puppy to raise! Ruth Carey said, “It is such a blessing when you see the partner with their new guide dog, it just transforms their life.”

Couple picking up their 20th puppy to raise with Guide Dogs of the Desert

Another family joined the puppy party Monday to pick up their first puppy to raise. Ruth English said one of the reasons for volunteering was to be able to figure out what they can do to keep themselves occupied in quarantine. Another main reason she said was, “I thought my daughters were at the age where it was time to learn how to give back and how to do something that’s not just for yourself but for someone else.” Raising a puppy with Guide Dogs of the Desert she said is a way for her family to have some fun while also helping others.

The English family taking home their first puppy to raise with Guide Dogs of the Desert

Guide Dogs of the Desert is looking for more volunteers to be puppy raisers! To find out more on applying and being involved in the process to raise a puppy, visit their website: https://www.guidedogsofthedesert.org/.

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Taban Sharifi

Taban Sharifi is a Meteorologist and Reporter with KESQ News Channel 3, The Desert’s News & Weather Leader. Learn more about Taban here.

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