“Then an opportunity came up. There was this little puppy named Nutella who was incredibly small, like the size of a cantaloupe and did not have a full time puppy raiser. We took the plunge and dedicated that year and a half to raising her,” Patric added.
The story of Nutella’s (nicknamed Tella) 18-month journey produced a children’s book, Purposeful Pup, written and rhymes in both English and Spanish. The author said it’s a “bit of a love letter to puppy raisers – the dedication to all the hands that help and hold them along the way.”
Puppy raisers are volunteers that commit to a year and a half of service dog training, taking on the financial cost of service dog classes, food, toys and medical assistance.
“It can be easy to discount all that happens in a year. It can be easy to simplify things like taking the dog to the grocery store or to class. The dogs are with you virtually the entire day. Nutella came to work with me every day. She flew with me, went to the grocery store, barber, just by my side for a year and a half,” he noted. “I say this lovingly with all the love in my heart, I held her leash more in that year and a half than I held my wife’s hand. You create such a bond and mentorship connection that when you let that leash go to somebody with a disability knowing what they are going to do is so amazing, it’s such an emotional and beautiful moment that I hope comes across in the book.
“The book was really just a passion project to tell a story. Part of the mission of the book is to help out with some of the costs that the volunteer puppy raisers incur along the way,” the author said.
Last November during Giving Tuesday, proceeds from the book sponsored 10 future service dogs training classes for the month. “It went over so well that I wanted to see if we could sponsor another ten dogs for a month or one dog for 10 months,” Patric stated.
Sponsoring training for one dog grew to instruction for two dogs – both in Sandy Springs – Shep and Tally.
“Puppy raisers give a piece of their heart every time they raise and give a puppy back to the program so it can go on and fulfill its purpose. Ultimately, I think it would be great if puppy raisers didn’t have to give a piece of their budget, even if it’s a small piece, to participate in the program,” he said.
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Each Sunday we write about a deserving person or charity events such as fun-runs, volunteer projects and other community gatherings that benefit a good cause. To submit a story for us to cover, send to firstname.lastname@example.org.