As a biomedical sciences student (BIMS), I have become active in organization that sparked my interest for a long time—Patriot Paws of Aggieland, the College Station branch of an group whose mission is “serving those who have served” by training and providing “service dogs of the highest quality at no cost to disabled American veterans and others with mobile disabilities and post-traumatic stress disorder.”
I have always wanted to join an organization that has to do with animals and, more specifically, training and raising animals for a good cause.
Patriot Paws is one of my favorite organizations because their mission appeals the most to me. However, because of my schedule and limits with transportation, I could not join the organization until my junior year of college.
In the fall, I went through the entire training for the whole semester to become a puppy raiser. And, now, here I am, qualified as a puppy raiser.
As a puppy raiser, I was partnered with two other puppy raisers, and we all share the responsibilities of housing, taking care, and building on the training foundation of that puppy.
Our first assigned service-dog-in-training is a puppy named Davy, an adorable and intelligent 3-month-old Labrador Retriever.
Currently, my partners and I are focusing mostly on Davy’s behaviors at home and playtime, as well as working on simple cues such as “sit,” “down,” “touch,” and “leave it.” He learns very quickly; I was actually able to teach him three cues in two days!
Sometimes, it is very amusing to see how he tries to fix his mistakes. Whenever he realizes that he did something wrong—often when he gets really excited—he backs up, sits down, stares at me, and then looks back and forth to see what he can do to make up for it.
It melts my heart every single time because I know he is just a baby who is constantly trying to please me.
As I have been trained, every time that happens, I immediately redirect him and give him a cue that he was supposed to do, and if he does it right, I will give him a treat.
Working with him makes me feel like a proud mom! He amazes me so much by how fast he is catching up and learning new things. We also are trying to work on his biting habit that results from his teething; he is getting better at it, which I am very happy about.
Working with other raisers and being a part of Patriot Paws have taught me so much as a pre-veterinary student.
I have become so much more organized and better at time management. I am also consistently improving my communication skills as I work with my partners and our trainer every week to make sure that Davy is getting all of the training and care that he needs.
Another thing I have seen is an increase in my confidence; thanks to the way Patriot Paws operates and the strong connection among members, I now feel so much more confidence knowing that they will always be willing to help me. Additionally, I have learned to be more patient and dedicated during this experience.
Raising and training a puppy for Patriot Paws makes me feel great, not only because it is for a great cause but it also gives me a new spark of happiness in my life.
When he is not working, Davy always has a blast playing with my roommates and me, and we also enjoy playing with him because it is very fun and helps us to destress from school work.
Patriot Paws is not only a good experience for a pre-vet student but also a person who loves animals and wants to get more involved like I did.
I am very grateful to have an opportunity to work with this amazing team and incredible dogs, and I am looking forward to learning more from the others and the dogs, as well as to see the dogs grow.
Last but not least, I am definitely looking forward to the day these amazing dogs graduate and get matched with their veterans!