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Being a Puppy Parent

 In General, PPH Blog, Volunteers

Have you ever wondered what it is like to be a Puppy Parent to a future Service Dog? Puppy Parents are an indispensable element of our Service Dog training program and prepare our service dogs-in-training to live with their Veteran full-time upon their graduation. Our Puppy Parents help our dogs to adjust to living in a home and experiencing new environments. Puppy Parents assist in training and take care of our dogs-in-training overnight and on the weekends. Nami Turner, Lofty’s Puppy Parent for our Bay Area facility, took us through her experience. 

The Beginning

The Turner family has been involved in our Puppy Parent program since 2019. After finding out about Paws for Purple Hearts volunteer opportunities through the Nextdoor app, the Turners quickly became George’s Puppy Parents and immediately felt that being a Puppy Parent was the right fit for their lifestyle. Once George was transferred to our national headquarters, they were Puppy Sitters to several dogs, including: Liberty, Timmy and Noah, before eventually becoming Lofty’s Puppy Parents. 

Day in the Life

A typical day as Lofty’s Puppy Parents starts with breakfast and a trip down to Canine Corner, our facility located inside the Menlo Park VA Welcome Center. Immediately after breakfast, Lofty is eager to get going so he can get started on his training for the day. He spends the day in our Bay Area facility working with his trainer, Megan. Once his training is complete, the Turners pick him up to bring him home. Evenings sometimes include a walk on the way home or an outside exercise class, where Lofty is extremely popular, before heading home for the day. Lofty likes to spend the evenings relaxing on the couch with his Puppy Parents. He enjoys evening naps and is a back sleeper who typically twists his neck and arms in a funny way while sleeping. Weekends for the Turners often include activities like hikes, store trips, or beach visits with Lofty by their side every step of the way. 

Lofty in his vest
Lofty in his vest. By Olivia Hughes

Making a Difference

Nami’s absolute favorite part of being a Puppy Parent is that she gets to enjoy the company of such a social, well behaved dog while knowing her time with her puppy will help a Veteran someday. 

“While it is true that it is a little sad to let them go to their forever home, it is also true that we get to share the life changing event for some of these Veterans who need help. We went to the graduation ceremony for one of the dogs we took care of and met the Veteran who became her forever Veteran. It was such a heartwarming feeling that she is going to literally change his life for the better.”

The Turners have been Lofty’s Puppy Parents since he was 4 months old and have loved watching him grow. Being a Puppy Parent has given them the best of both worlds.  They are allowed to enjoy wonderful companionship with their special canine friend each day after work, plus on weekends, while retaining lots of free time when the dog is “at work” training with PPH.  Nami mentions how much she has learned through the process and her respect for the work of our both trainers and dogs.

“We’ve learned so much since we became Puppy Parents and I would not hesitate to recommend to anyone to volunteer with PPH.”- Nami, Lofty’s Puppy Parent

Becoming a Puppy Parent

Are you in the San Antonio area and interested in becoming a PPH Puppy Parent? You’re in luck! We are looking for Puppy Parents and backup Puppy Parents for some wonderful dogs at our San Antonio location. If you’re interested, please fill out an a Puppy Parent application on our website. Read on to meet our puppies in need of Puppy Parents!

Chapman

1.5 year old Lab/Golden cross

Chapman is a silly, goofy, happy boy who loves snuggles, offering a visit when he thinks you need support, and romping with his dog friends on sunny afternoons. His sweet and caring demeanor has made him a fan favorite at our site and whoever meets him in the community instantly loves him!

Chapman, San Antonio
Chapman, San Antonio

Kemmerle

7 month old Lab/Golden cross

Kemmerle is active and quick; both in temperament and personality! She is always up to something fun, whether it’s playing in the backyard with her favorite toy, going for a neighborhood walk, or taking a nap with the other service dogs-in-training on a lazy afternoon. Sweet and spicy all wrapped up into one exciting bundle describe this wonderful canine perfectly!

Kemmerle, San Antonio
Kemmerle, San Antonio

Debra

1 year old Lab/Golden cross

Debra is a cuddle bug who loves to receive snuggles and belly rubs multiple times a day. She can be your couch potato buddy after a neighborhood walk or playing some fetch with a frisbee. Her favorite thing to do is retrieve socks, keys, wallets, and other items you may drop on the ground. If you’re looking for a wiggly and lovable teenager she’s your girl!

Debra, San Antonio
Debra, San Antonio

Eaton

16 month old Lab

Eaton is easy-going, laid back, and down to earth. She enjoys playing frisbee, playing with other dogs, and LOVES belly rubs. She could squeak a toy for hours and get so much joy out of it. Eaton is appropriate around cats and children. She is also potty trained and crate trained. Overall, she’s a happy girl and would love to meet you. If you’re looking for a laid-back, happy pup, apply to meet Eaton!

Eaton, San Antonio
Eaton, San Antonio

Koslosky

7 month old Lab/Golden cross

Koslosky rocks the chill California surfer boy vibes. He is laid back and capable of settling in his kennel after playtime or a neighborhood walk. He enjoys relaxing on a dog bed squeaking a toy or chewing on a bone. He is definitely a happy guy that is responsive to commands, but will also test to see if y’all know the rules! He loves other dogs and is learning to be appropriate around cats and children. He is crate trained and potty trained so he can be trusted in the house most of the time, but still needs some supervision as he is still a puppy. Happy, affectionate, and attentive describe him perfectly!

Koslosky, San Antonio
Koslosky, San Antonio

If you want to support us, you can help in so many ways! Simply spreading the word to any Warriors who might benefit from our programs can make such a difference.  You can also stop by your local VA and ask them how we can get involved in helping their Veterans suffering from PTSD and TBI. Through the VA, we are able to connect with so many Veterans in need of our services. Please also consider a monetary donation or Amazon Wish List donation to directly help our Warriors. We would also love to connect with you on social media! Please follow and reshare our social media accounts @paws4ph.

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