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Off to Dog Guide U

Last July Jody’s ninth puppy from the Lion’s Foundation joined our family at 6 1/2 weeks of age. Tootsie had loads of personality and, needless to say, we all fell in love with her instantly! The months have flown by and she’s now 10 months old. This weekend she will leave us and begin her formal training to become a fully licensed service dog.


Tootsie has learned all of her lessons well – she rides elevators and escalators like a pro, shops at the grocery store politely, she has attended live music events and the hospital gala, gone to movies and board meetings, waited patiently under tables at restaurants and coffee shops while we eat, learned to jump on the scale at the vet office, lays calmly on top of her person in the chair at the dentist office, walks nicely with a haltie (ok, she hates the haltie, but she walks with it), chases down balls and frisbees like a champ, gets along with dogs, cats, cows and donkeys and she has been exposed to a bunch of other things that a service dog may encounter during their working life. She has also learned to listen well when she’s spoken to.

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We thank our community for their participation in raising Tootsie and giving her all of these valuable experiences. Through conversation with other foster families we know that not every puppy is welcomed with open arms everywhere but we’ve never had issues in Exeter. We also thank anyone who has donated to the Lion’s Foundation through participation in the Purina Walk for Dog Guides or perhaps through our local Lion’s Club. The cost to breed, raise and train a Dog Guide is $25,000 including matching them with a client at no cost to them. These dogs change lives, give independence and companionship and, in some programs, are trained to alert to changes in health. Tootsie is going to start her training in the Special Skills program which means she could graduate with a client who is in a wheelchair and help them lead a more independent life. Throughout several months of training with a specialized trainer and a few other classmates, Tootsie will learn to pick up dropped items, open crash doors, turn on lights, open the refrigerator and bring a bottle of water, take laundry out of a dryer and a long list of other tasks.

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Tootsie has been surrounded by a family that loves her to bits and we’ll get to have her with us one more time for a couple of weeks as she recovers from spay surgery. Once Tootsie has completed her independent training she will be matched with a client who has gone through an application and approval process and they will train as a team for a couple of weeks. We will have the opportunity to meet her new partner at the graduation ceremony – always a happy/sad event because it’s the last time we’ll see Tootsie yet it’s the start of a wonderful new life for Tootsie’s partner. Fortunately a few of Jody’s past foster puppy’s partners have elected to update her occasionally about the dogs and those are always such special messages to receive.

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Tootsie is ready to go on to the next chapter in her life – Jody has raised her well and I’m so proud of both of them. Her Christmas stocking will stay with us, as they all do, as a reminder of our family members who are scattered from coast to coast doing the job they were born for. We love you, Tootsie, and we know you’ll make us proud!

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March 26, 2014 - 10:09 pm
What a beautiful post! I'm fostering Dime, my first foster puppy. Best of luck at university Tootsie!
March 27, 2014 - 7:42 am
Thank you, Linda! Dime is such a handsome little man. I hope you love the experience enough to do it again and again.
April 14, 2014 - 9:54 am
Jody --- you and your family are such fabulous, special people! To give your time and love to train these puppies for the amazing jobs they do is a truly wonderful thing! It must be so hard to let these gorgeous puppies go, however, when we are lucky enough to receive our autism assistance dog for our little boy; we will be sure to stay in contact with our furkids original family. The way these dogs change lives and help our little ones assimilate into the community is nothing short of wondrous! Thank you for all your work and we look forward to getting our very own Tootsie soon! :-D
April 14, 2014 - 10:10 am
Thank you for the kind words, Gina. I'll make sure Jody sees them. Thank you also for wanting to stay in touch with your future AAD's foster family. Every one of them stays in our hearts so it means the world to hear how they are doing with their forever families.
April 14, 2014 - 1:46 pm
Gina, thank you so much for your kind words. It's people like you, who will love and appreciate these dogs so much, that makes fostering these puppies and having to give them up so worth it. Good luck with your new furkid :) You are going to have so much fun with him or her!
April 14, 2014 - 3:36 pm

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