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Puppy sitters needed to assist Hillsborough school program



TAMPA -- Looking for a way to do some good, have some fun, and help a local school program?

The Kids and Canines program at Dorothy Thomas School in Carrollwood is looking for a few good "puppy raisers" to help take care of young assistance-dogs-in-training.

What does this entail? Basically you pick up a cute Golden Retriever, Labrador or Golden Doodle afterschool, feed and care for them on nights and weekends -- or pitch in as an occasional puppy sitter when the "puppy raisers" are out of town -- and eventually wish the dog good luck when it's assigned to work full-time with disabled or autistic folks. During the school day the dogs will be assigned to at-risk teens at the school, who help them through their paces and often improve their own school performance in the process.

Still interested? Read on:

Kenny, a 26 month old Labrador Retriever at the Dorothy Thomas School in Carrollwood, recently completed his training to become an assistance dog.  He now has the ability to open doors, turn lights on and off, remove laundry from a dryer, and help with grocery shopping, and follow approximately 60 commands.
Kids and Canines, an innovative program offered at the Dorothy Thomas School in Carrollwood, pairs at-risk students with dogs like Kenny, and then places the dogs with people who are disabled or autistic in our community. As a result, students’ attendance, behavior, and grades improve and the dogs bestow independence upon others.
“The dogs train at the school, with the students, during the day,” says Jennifer Wise, Program Director of Kids and Canines.  "But at night and on weekends, they go into the homes of special volunteers we call ‘puppy raisers.’"  Each year, the school requires a minimum of 6 new puppy raisers, as well as “puppy sitters,” who watch the dogs when puppy raisers travel or must meet other obligations.
“Puppy raisers can be any age, and they can have kids of their own, pets of their own – the real requirements are dedication to the dogs, the ability to drop the dogs off in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon, and be able to attend puppy raiser meetings.” explains Wise.  “Without the volunteer puppy raisers, we can’t offer this program to at-risk kids or provide assistance dogs to those who need them.”
If you are interested in becoming a puppy raiser or sitter, please contact Kids and Canines at 813-558-5406.  The program also offers puppy sponsorship packages for local businesses and individuals to get involved and help offset dog-related costs not covered by the Hillsborough County School District. To learn more about Kids and Canines, or to become involved, contact Yvonne Guibert at 813.245.0193 or visit us on the web at
About Kids with Canines
Kids and Canines is a 501(c)3 organization. It is a unique and nationally recognized assistance dog training program affiliated with the School District of Hillsborough County. Middle School students enrolled in the SUCCESS Program are selected to train puppies who will become Assistance Dogs. Dogs typically in the program include Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, or Golden Doodles. Students work with their dogs on a daily basis for 18-24 months in order to prepare them to perform 60 skills required of a Certified Assistance Dog. When the dogs "graduate" they are permanently placed with a person with disabilities or a child with autism who will rely on their dog to assist them with basic day-to-day living skills. The Kids and Canines program relies heavily on community support through volunteering efforts and fundraising for  the program. Kids and Canines is located on the Dorothy Thomas School campus at 3215 Nundy Road, Tampa, FL 33618. For more information please call 813.558.5406 or visit

[Last modified: Tuesday, October 5, 2010 2:12pm]


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