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What Does It Take to be a Puppy Raiser?


Story by Anna Cooke.


It Is When You Give Of Yourself That You Truly Give. –Kahlil Gibran.


“I have the best job in the world,” said Laura Zellner, Regional Manager of Puppy Raising Services at Southeastern Guide Dogs (SEGD) in Palmetto. She was introduced to Southeastern Guide Dogs’ Puppy Raiser program at a fundraising event for the Jacksonville Humane Society while living in Jacksonville. “They had a tent at the event and I grabbed a brochure. Later, when I showed the brochure to David, my husband, he wasn’t sure our schedules at the time, would allow for bringing a puppy into hour home.” So, Laura began slow, by taking over and


finishing the puppy raising duties for two dogs whose original puppy raisers could not finish. In 2010, Sugar became Laura’s first official puppy in the SEGD Puppy Raiser program. She soon became the Assistant Area Coordinator for SEGD in Jacksonville. When we met with Laura at SEGD this


past October, she introduced us to Subie II, whom she picked up on June 19. Subie II is her twelfth puppy in the puppy raiser program, placing Laura in the Puppy Raiser Hall of Fame. There are currently 40 puppy raisers who hold the honor of having raised a mini- mum of 10 dogs. Her husband, who lived in Jacksonville all


of his life, had just accepted an early retirement package. Laura was offered her dream job on June 20, the day after she picked up Subie. The couple, who have been married for thirty years, moved to Parrish just in time to face Hurricane Irma. Laura’s first day of work at SEGD was September 1, and we’re pretty sure she hasn’t stopped smiling since. To say that Laura loves dog is an under-


statement. She has been around them since she was a little girl. Growing up in New York, she took pre-veterinary classes through the local 4-H. When she was a teenager, she volunteered for a service dog organization and raised two puppies in their puppy raiser program, also through 4-H.


42 THE NEW BARKER


(Continued on page 44)g


Laura Zellner with Subie II, her 12th Southeastern Guide Dog puppy she has helped raise. www.TheNewBarker.com


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