My husband and I learned how to train service dogs through puppy groups, and we got a really awesome puppy (named Macklin) who flew through the training. At graduation, when I saw how much Macklin bonded to his new partner who he would be helping, it finally hit me how powerful it is to raise these dogs and how amazing it is that these dogs can help people and really find their purpose.
Location: Silicon Valley, California
Can you explain the work you and your organization are currently doing?
Our organization, Growing Up Guide Pup, aims to spread awareness of service dogs and the immense capabilities they have. Our non-profit is the first of its kind in a new kind of service dog education. We use new media to educate and entertain. We have a web series that shows the process of raising these dogs from the time they’re puppies to their eventual graduation into full-fledged service dogs. We want to make the public aware that there are all types of service dogs, not just guide dogs, and we hope to education people on what these amazing creatures can do. We are also hoping to shed light on some of the injustices and discriminatory acts surrounding people who need these dogs. For those who donate to our organization, the donations are focused on service dog raising, service dog etiquette, and service dog law awareness.
What inspired you to do this web series?
In 2009 when we started this, it was just a hobby but I started to notice that people were writing blogs about puppy raising. My husband edits videos for a living, so, inspired by the success of those blogs, I suggested we make a video blog for our next service puppy. We just wanted to tell the story and then see what happens from there. We started shooting material on our cell phones. It was just little things like meeting the puppy for the first time, but people began commenting enthusiastically on the videos. The more comments we got, the more we realized how serious this could be. People wondered how these dogs were raised and they really inspired people. We were filling a void. We got messages from people all over the world and we realized we were hitting a nerve. It should also be noted that not only do we make videos, but we are also turning out great material from service dog bloggers to help us achieve our goals in raising awareness.
What is your grand vision for Growing up Guide Pup?
We are hoping to turn the web series into a full-fledged television show. We want to spread awareness of how to treat people with service dogs, as well as teaching people the proper etiquette for training and dealing with the dogs themselves.. We also hope to gain more volunteers and contributors who will help fund smaller organizations. There is also a serious problem with fake service dogs, so we want to showcase what these dogs are supposed to do so people can weed out the real service dogs from the fake ones.
Is there a specific story that you’ve featured on your web series that is emblematic of the talent and capabilities of these dogs?
Through our web series we were contacted by a woman named Christie who was hit by a drunk driver and suffered a traumatic brain injury. She has trouble remembering things, basic movements, and has seizure-like activities. She got a wonderful service dog named Windsor who goes above and beyond. He alerts her of oncoming seizure episodes, can take her home or to her parents, and can even help with her grocery shopping. We featured them on our web series and received so many wonderful comments and likes. It quickly became our most popular video, which is great as it shows how amazing and capable these dogs are.
Who is someone that inspires you?
There isn’t necessarily one specific person who I would say is my role model. However, in college there was a classmate of mine who was raising a puppy to be a guide dog. I was inspired by what she was doing and wanted a dog, but I was living in a tiny condo at the time. I figured that raising a guide was a great solution as I would be able to take the dog everywhere with me so it won’t be cooped up and I’d always wanted a dog. Either way, the dog wins. My husband and I learned how to train service dogs through puppy groups, and we got a really awesome puppy (named Macklin) who flew through the training. At graduation, when I saw how much Macklin bonded to his new partner who he would be helping, it finally hit me how powerful it is to raise these dogs and how amazing it is that these dogs can help people and really find their purpose.