Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Passion and a Purpose
Interview with puppy raiser Alice Boose
By Shirley Tracy

Why would anyone want to pour their heart and their money into a precious puppy, do the hard work of housebreaking, obedience training and socializing them, only to have to give them up in about a year? That’s the first question I asked Alice Boose, a long-time puppy raiser for Southeastern Guide Dogs.

I first met Alice at a writers group meeting last spring. A gentle, soft-spoken woman, she had wonderful things to say about Southeastern, and she was thrilled to see me out and about with my guide dog Cleo, a real-life example of what the program is all about.

Alice’s connection to Southeastern began nearly twenty years ago, when she and her husband Bob met a couple at their church who frequently talked about going somewhere and hugging puppies. "One day Alice asked the wife, “Where do you go to do that?”

The woman told her, “Southeastern Guide Dogs,” and explained where it was located.

As soon as she could, Alice found a day in her schedule to visit the kennels. “I went down and hugged puppies,” she says, “and I just fell in love with those little puppies.”

Alice says she also recognized that this was a made-to-order community service for her, because her mother was blind, as well as two of her mother’s sisters, and Alice could appreciate the work and mission of the program.

“    I feel that everybody should have something that they’re passionate about,” she says, “and I became very passionate about that.”

Puppy hugging was only the beginning. Alice soon began walking dogs, participating in walkathons, and performing other volunteer work for the school.

On her first walkathon Alice raised enough money to name a dog. She decided if she could name a dog, she ought to raise it. So twelve years ago, she and Bob began raising puppies. Their first dog was a goldador named Grace. Their most recent dogs have been collies. Presently, Alice says they are without a puppy but might like another.

When asked how she feels about raising a puppy and then having to give it up, she responds honestly, “That’s the hardest thing in the world. They tell us thirty days ahead what particular week we are to bring them in, and that’s when I get sad and start crying. But I focus on what the dog is going to do--what their job is going to be and how they are going to help other people. So that’s how I’m able to give them back, wish them success, and hope that they do get to be a guide for a blind person. You can’t help but bond with them and love them, but you go through that agony because its absolutely worth it.”

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