Veterans Moving Forward, Inc. (VMF), a Loudoun-based nonprofit that provides service dogs to veterans, is seeking local dog lovers to raise and train puppies for their program. The commitment is typically 20 to 24 months, and all equipment and veterinary care is provided by VMF. Volunteers provide their time as well as a good home environment and food for the dog.
“The idea of raising a puppy to become a service dog appeals to a lot of people, including moms with young children and teenagers, but we’ve found that our most successful volunteers are dog-loving women and men without young children,” says VMF Director of Canine Operations Michele Khol.
Volunteers who commit to the program receive a puppy at eight weeks old, and work with VMF both at home and three to four times per month at VMF’s Training Center in Dulles. In addition to socialization and behavior, the puppy is taught basic obedience and specialized skills, such as helping with laundry, fetching a water bottle from the fridge and fetching medication. At 16-17 months of age, the puppy, who is at this point, a service dog in training, is ready to be matched with a veteran and begin advanced training that’s tailored to meet their veteran’s specific needs.
“Meeting the veteran who received the service dog we raised gave my husband and I a clearer perspective on what VMF is all about. He tearfully thanked us, letting us know how much this meant to him and his family. I couldn’t have been prouder,” said former puppy raiser Dana.
Optimal candidates to raise a puppy as a service dog are dog-loving women and men, who have no young children, have had a dog as an adult, have had some experience training a dog, are in good physical condition, and live within 30 miles of VMF’s Training Center in Dulles.
About Veterans Moving Forward
Founded in 2010, Veterans Moving Forward, Inc. is a 501 (C) 3 nonprofit organization that provides service dogs and canine therapy services to veterans with physical and/or mental health challenges, at no cost to the veteran. Our vision is to be a leading source of service dogs and canine therapy services to veterans who have physical and/or mental health challenges; to make a meaningful difference in their lives; and increase their safety and independence within their homes and communities.