December 21st, 2020
4 min read

Supporting Guide Dogs for the Blind’s Mission: A Teen Puppy Raiser’s Contribution

 GDB puppy raiser Kendal (left), her black Lab Puppy in Training, Beauty, and Kendal's mother
Kendal (left), Beauty (black lab), and Kendal's mother
Photo credit: Kaytlyn Greigo

Kendal McLeod, a sophomore at Del Oro high school, began her journey with guide dog puppies when she was just in middle school. Her sister, who was a senior in high school at the time, got in touch with a local club leader of Guide Dogs for the Blind after seeing a guide dog puppy in training in action. Kendal and her family were able to join a meeting with the Rocklin, CA club where she immediately felt connected to the members of the club as well as working with amazing puppies. After her first exposure to Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB), Kendal and her family kept on attending meetings and outings to get to know more about the program. After learning basic commands and puppy sitting dogs for 8 months, Kendal and her family finally became puppy raisers and welcomed a female Labrador named Scotia.

Even after her sister left for college, Kendal was determined to raise Scotia as the new primary raiser. In fact, she was so inspired by the other puppy raisers on platforms like Instagram and seeing dogs succeed that she continued to raise more puppies after Scotia; Fast forward a few years and now she is raising Beauty, her third guide dog puppy in training.

“The fact that I can make a difference in somebody’s life at my age, which I didn't think was possible, gives me the feeling of accomplishment,” Kendal says. “Even if a dog gets ‘career changed’ or becomes part of the K9 buddy program, seeing children who are blind or visually impaired growing up with a companion is amazing. Scotia was actually career changed but I had several Guide Dogs for the Blind instructors reaching out to me saying that they were paired with Scotia as part of the instructors’ first training string or had the chance to work with her, which motivated me to keep trying my best and remind myself of how important puppy raising really is.”

Kendal's handmade ornaments In addition to puppy raising, Kendal has also recently sold custom Christmas ornaments that she handmade for GDB puppy raisers and pet dogs of others who learned about the cause, donating her profit of over $700 to GDB. “ It was very enjoyable and showed me that even without directly raising a dog I can still make a difference. I was also able to educate my family, friends, and others about guide dogs and it's great that I can inspire them to volunteer for Guide Dogs for the Blind the same way my community and puppy club did the same to me.”

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