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Puppy Lovers Come To The Rescue Of 'Can Do Canines'

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Dozens of Twin Cities families picked up their new puppies Friday from Can Do Canines, but they won't be keeping them.

Last month, Can Do Canines had a puppy problem, too many dogs and not enough people to raise them.

Hundreds of people answered their call for help.

People like Dave Woodey, whose family came to the New Hope, Minn. facility ready to pick up the newest member of their family, a black lab named Rizzo.

Rizzo is from a liter specially bred to help others.

The Woodey's English Springer Spaniel died unexpectedly last November, but their son found a way to fill that void.

He printed out an application to become a puppy raiser.

"We really wanted that companionship, but we're kinda at that stage of life where we're debating if we want another 10 to 12 year commitment," Woodey said.

Puppy raisers only have the dogs for the first two years.

During their two years they raise the dogs as their own. They're responsible for buying food, leashes, veterinary and any expense that would come along with having a puppy.

Can Do Canines then provides training twice a week.

The raisers are responsible for getting the dogs used to new sights and sounds by taking them to stores, restaurants or anywhere a service dog might need to be.

For the next two years, Rizzo will wear a cape saying she's a service dog in training and the Woodey's will bring an ID card with them explaining what she's doing too.

In the final six months of training, the dogs are given a specialty based on their personality and skills. Can Do Canines has graduated more than 400 service dogs since 1989. Most help with hearing and mobility disabilities, but others assist people who have seizures, autism and diabetes.

The hardest part of being a puppy raiser is also the most rewarding, saying good bye.

"Once they see their dogs at graduation and they see their dog with the client, it's going to make it all worthwhile," said Felicia Vevea, puppy program instructor. "It is a rewarding experience. You see these dogs grow up from not knowing anything the day they go home to basically being this wonderful dog that can go into any type of situation and they're bomb proof."

To volunteer to foster puppies, go to Can Do Canines' website for information on becoming a foster family.

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