by Lauren Redfern
If you have Ms. Bills-Tenney for a teacher or a class with Kayla or Kylee Parker, then you have been around a service dog in training. These dogs are not their personal service dogs, but a 4 Paws for Ability dog that is being fostered in their first year of life.
The foster family has the responsibility of socializing the puppy and obedience training. These families are called puppy raisers. The organization selects puppy raisers based on applications. The raisers are simply volunteers who help housebreak the dog and expose them to people at minimal expense to the family. 4 Paws provides all veterinary care, dog food, a crate, and preventative care. Grooming care for specific breeds can be provided. Fees associated with obedience classes are covered, although 4 Paws will start requiring their own obedience classes at their facility in Xenia in September.
Most families choose to spoil their puppies with 4 Paws approved treats and toys! 4 Paws will provide supplies, but according to the info on their website 4pawsforability.org, will not reimburse the family for their own purchases. Being a foster takes love and patience as you are a part of the development of a puppy. It also takes a big heart, since the puppies will go on to be service dogs for children with special needs or veterans. Service dogs who do not make the program, called “fabulous flunkies,” are adopted out to loving homes. Ms. Bills-Tenney regularly gets the question, “How can you give the puppy back?” and she says, “I see these puppies like I see my students. I will love them while I have charge over them, and then I will send them out into the world to make a difference for someone else.”
4 Paws for Ability is in need of puppy raisers. If interested, visit the 4 Paws for Ability website or talk to Mrs. Bills-Tenney or the Parker twins.