Group seeks additional dog trainers
IF YOU GO
Who: OccuPaws Guide Dog Association
What: Dog Days on the Plaza
When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13
Where: Janesville Plaza, 2475 Milton Ave., Janesville
Featured: Silent auction and raffle, scavenger hunt in the plaza and photos with a guide dog puppy in training.
TO VOLUNTEER/GET HELP
Call (608) 772-3787 or visit occupaws.org.
JANESVILLE They truly are the dog days of summer.
While the recent sultry weather might lend itself to such a pun, the work of Theresa Moe and her companion Ace is no joke. Earlier this week, Moe and Ace visited storeowners at the Janesville Plaza to drop off materials promoting “Dog Days on the Plaza” on Saturday, Aug. 13.
The event, a benefit for the OccuPaws Guide Dog Association, helps celebrate International Assistance Dog Awareness Week from Aug. 7-13.
Moe, 47, of Janesville is the Rock County-area puppy trainer coordinator for the Madison-based nonprofit, which provides free guide dogs to visually impaired adults and children in Wisconsin.
Ace, a 9½-month-old 65-pound English Black Labrador, is the fourth OccuPaws guide dog Moe has raised. Despite being one of 38 puppy raisers, Moe said the association has a definite need for more.
“We just got two puppies (from breeders) so we are looking for puppy raisers,” Moe said.
Four adults are waiting for guide dogs and one dog is being placed with a child in this month, she said.
No special dog experience or training is needed to become a volunteer with OccuPaws, Moe said. However, volunteers must be able to safely house and care for a puppy from the time it is 8-week-old to 18 months. Volunteers also must be willing and able to devote time each day to oversee care for the puppy including feeding, grooming, socialization and exercise as recommended by the program coordinator, according to the organization’s website.
Volunteers also will be financially responsible for food and other supplies, plus healthcare and other costs associated with harness training with an OccuPaws supervisor. At this time, donations cover $75 toward spaying/neutering and the costs for all vaccinations except rabies.
Volunteer puppy raisers also must live within 90 minutes of Madison, Milwaukee or Janesville to be able to enroll and participate in OccuPaws or OccuPaws-approved obedience classes. Monthly progress reports to the program coordinator also are required.
While the commitment might seem overwhelming, Moe said she still has time to be a puppy raiser and coordinator, work both a full-time and part-time job, and meet the obligations of family and two pets.
“If I’m teaching a dog obedience class, I take Ace with,” she said. “If I run errands and have to shop, I take him with. It’s five minutes here and there worked into my routine of everyday life.”
As for the personal connection, Moe said that parting with puppies once they are trained wasn’t as hard as she thought it would be. That’s because she got to see the sense of freedom the dog provided for its visually impaired partner.
“The child is doing things she never did,” Moe said. “Before she’d come home from school and go to bed. Now she walks the dog. It really has helped her open up.”