Guide Dogs of the Desert put out a call Thursday for volunteer foster families to help raise and train puppies to be companions to blind and visually impaired clients.
The nonprofit has 10 poodles and black Labrador retrievers in need of foster families who can commit to 18-month terms, beginning next month. The puppies are between 8 and 12 weeks old.
“By becoming a volunteer Puppy Raiser for Guide Dogs of the Desert, you’ll be an integral part of the process that helps people with a visual impairment find independence through the use of a guide dog. You’ll also spend 18 months with a smart, playful new friend,” according to the organization.
Puppy raisers will be provided with training sessions, various outings with other volunteers and additional support.
The service is free for clients, who upon being matched with an animal, are given extensive training on how to adjust to living with a guide dog.
“Students that graduate from Guide Dogs of the Desert leave with the gift of newfound confidence, independence, mobility and infinite smiles,” according to the organization’s website.
Volunteers are the key to the operation, the nonprofit said.
The Whitewater-based organization was founded in 1972. In that time, it has provided its clients more than 800 trained guide dogs.