Why I Became a Puppy Raiser

Our puppy raiser program could not function without our dedicated and enthusiastic volunteers, who raise our puppies for a year according to our trainers’ professional instructions. Judit Losonczy, Hetti’s raiser, honestly writes about why she undertook this noble task and how her everyday life is spent with Hetti.

“First come the usual phrases that I’ve always loved animals. But even this can be enhanced by saying that I’ve always been fond of animals that have fur and at least as big as a cat. Since the other members of my family did not like the idea to keep a dog when everyone is working all day, the interest remained and I tried to read everything about the relationship between man and dog. For example, in the US the reading difficulties of children with dyslexia are alleviated by Labradors and Golden Retrievers in a way that children read them out individually. The dogs do not correct the children, but carefully listen to the reading, which helps a lot more than we think, because it is not stressful for the children and does not make them feel that they have failed as we might do, who correct their words wrongly pronounced. I read about dogs helping the disabled, therapy dogs, the dolphin therapy, and everything that was available. I once came across a flyer that puppy raisers are wanted to prospective guide dogs. I put away the flyer. This was approximately 2 years ago. One can always dream about something; I was dreaming of, inter alia, having a dog once I no longer work all day. This dream has now been transformed and concretized. When I retire, I’ll raise a would-be guide dog. Of course the family’s approval was also necessary, but fortunately my husband did not opposite it as he is also an animal-lover, though not nearly as much as I am. Just in a normal way.

In the picture there is a woman squatting and embracing a yellow Labrador sitting beside her.
Judit Losonczy and Hetti

I retired at the end of May, in July we held our son’s wedding, and after we got our ducks in a row, I checked in at Barathegyi in the autumn and told them that I would be happy to raise a puppy. They kindly took note of the application and said that they would let me know if there was a puppy. Next time they called me early next year if I still mean it or not. I was unshakable, so the little bit sheepish but very cute Hetti arrived on 21 February.  She was significantly bigger than I expected, with all its advantages and disadvantages. I thought I would get a lap-dog that I can cuddle (and who would wake me up in the middle of the nightJ. However, she was 11 kg, slept through the first night without problems, and this is still true. She is snoring beside my bed and has not waked me up since she got here. Thanks Hetti! So she was not so small, but she was not crying after her brothers and became housebroken very quickly. She wanted to be to please us, receive praise and hugs. She is a real love bomb, who frees such hidden feelings in us of which we knew nothing. She is adorable every minute of the day, and is very difficult to handle if encountered with strange stimuli, because she wants to love everyone, even who would not like this. So it is not easy to break her of this habit, but it is under way. As she is also an energy bomb, it is not a small job to make her move enough, in which, let’s face it, we are not always so successful. At home the commands are going pretty well, but in the street it is more difficult. However, she is only 6 months old, a puppy of 21 kg with a lot of power. Fortunately she is a Labrador, who is not refusing treats, so she is easy to motivate. Since Hetti’s arrival, I’ve learnt a lot about dogs, consistency, distraction and positive confirmation. Maybe some would stone me, but raising Hetti is very similar to raising a child and although I am already as old as a grandmother and I do not have grandchildren yet, I do not pamper her (which is deferred is not relinquished). I try to remain very strong, when she is sitting at the table and watching with those hungry and sad eyes (right after she has devoured her dinner), but she is strictly denied to get even a bite.  Thus, the method works, only persistence and consistency is needed. Finally, she goes under the table and falls sleep.

I haven’t talked about the health benefits of walking a dog, which is highly desirable for someone who has spent the last 20-30 years sitting at a desk; moreover, it could be prescribed by a doctor. Relaxation and exercise at the same time. And last but not least it is very pleasant.

When we walk, we meet a lot of people with dogs, talk to each other and exchange our experiences. Dog owners are especially nice people and it is heart-warming to see that lots of them have dogs from animal shelters, well trained, happy dogs, with which it is safe to play either in the street or in the dog run.

Everyone asks how I will be able to say goodbye to her. I do not know, I’m going to cry for sure, it will be very difficult. But I have buried a couple of cats in the past 20 years, which was more difficult. It will be now a separation, which will close a chapter. Specifically, the Hetti’s puppyhood will end that now I’m trying to make beautiful, joyful and happy with lots of stimuli, so that in the future during her training she be a handy dog who knows her limits, is eager to learn new things and becomes a useful and good companion of her prospective owner. And if it is so, it feels great even if she is no longer with me, but dedicates her life to someone else, who hopefully will love her as much as I do. I hope that it will be so and it was all worthwhile, and then maybe another puppy will come to fill the void that will be left behind Hetti.”