Updated: Sep 12
From puppy raisers who've been there!
It's okay to cry. You know it hurts really bad, because you put all this time and love into a dog that was destined to change someone's life. But I've learned that every dog makes a difference and brings something to the organization whether it's being an advocate for the organization through talks or therapy work, bringing in money for the organization through adoption, career changing to a puppy raiser. They all play such an important role to make other dogs succeed and have a brighter future! - Brooke Krajewski, The Seeing Eye Puppy Raiser
You are NOT a terrible person for choosing not to adopt! Choosing the life that is the best fit for both you and your dog is a really hard and selfless thing to do.
If you do choose to adopt, give you and your dog time to adjust. You don't have to fly right into doing dog sports or trick training. Allow your relationship and their idea of their role in your life to recalibrate and then decide where to go from there. On a more practical note, enrichment like Kongs, snuffle mats, and puzzles are a great way to help your dog transition from long working days to staying at home. - Julia Mazel, Former Guide Dog Foundation Puppy Raiser
It's completely fine to be sad. It's not your fault the dog didn't make it to become a service dog, some dogs just don't want to do that and that's fine. I like to think of it as the organization understanding that the dog doesn't want to work and not making them, finding a place for them that will make them happy. It makes me happy that they care about not only the physical health but the dogs personality and if the dog would be more happy as a pet or doing something else.
The family that now has my career changed dog, is amazing and wonderful for him, I'm really happy to see him so happy and I even get to do meet up's with him, and he gets to play with the service dog in training I have now.
Even though the dog is not a service dog, they still go through a matching process to make sure the dog is in the perfect home, which is super special and a comforting thing to hear. - Kailey Spiller, The Exceptional Sidekick Service Dogs Puppy Raiser
The first dog I raised was career changed and it was sad at first but made me really happy that I knew she was doing what she loved rather than something that made her stressed! - Marissa Holske, Guiding Eyes for the Blind Puppy Raiser
My biggest advice would be to feel all the emotions. Releases are usually beyond your control. Buddy's was due to crate anxiety, which we think was genetic since several pups from his litter and mom's first litter had it. Apgar is getting released for USMI, which is basically a hormone imbalance caused by his neuter that causes incontinence. It's the worst and sometimes it feels like a waste and that's okay to feel it. It's okay to feel excited you get to keep your pup. It's also okay to feel relief - I did when Buddy got released because it meant we didn’t have to keep fighting over the crate and feed on each other's stress! They truly end up where they are supposed to be and they end up as great talking points for their org and the service dog community at large! - Hallie Worthington, Southeastern Guide Dogs Puppy Raiser