December 31st, 2020
3 min read

A Passionate Pursuit to Change Lives

GDB puppy raiser Sierra (left) and her yellow Lab Puppy in Training, Artemis (right) laying in green grass. Artemis is wearing her green GDB vest.
Sierra (left) and Artemis (right) laying in green grass. Artemis is a dark yellow lab female. She is wearing her green GDB vest.
Photo Credits: GDB Official

My name is Sierra Booker and I am a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind through the James Madison FFA Club. I started my puppy raising journey in 2017 as a freshman in high school. I spent about 6 months as a puppy sitter waiting for my first puppy to come. During that time as a puppy sitter it really built my confidence in handling and training the dogs. I knew at that moment that I would continue puppy raising for a long time. I have now raised 3 puppies and I am on my fourth. My current puppy in training is Joyful. She is a female yellow lab that I received as my first transfer in Nov. 2020. Throughout my involvement with GDB I have raised 2 breeders, Artemis and Shakira, and 1 K9 Buddy, Shell. I hope that Joyful has big plans ahead too. She is extremely smart and a huge people pleaser.

Shell (left) and Sierra (right) posed in front of the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Tx. Shell is in her GDB vest.
Shell (left) and Sierra (right) posed in front of the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Tx. Shell is in her GDB vest. Shell is a yellow lab female.
Photo Credits: Shelley Johnson

The memories and opportunities that I have had through GDB are unforgettable. I have been blessed with an amazing club and leaders. I have made countless connections through GDB. The community that comes with puppy raising is truly never ending. In my club we like to say that “It takes a village” and I wholeheartedly agree. My favorite day in my GDB career has been Feb. 16, 2019. This is the day that I attended Artemis’ graduation. I listened to everyone's speeches and just couldn’t keep from falling in love with the program all over again. People ask how we “give up” our dogs, but I see it as giving our dogs the opportunity to go change lives. During that trip I also did a puppy visit with Artemis’ first litter. That is where I met Shell, puppy #3. Shell is what I call my “heart dog”. To me, that is the dog that you have a connection with like no other. Shell and I conquered everything together; senior year of high school, pandemic, freshman year of college, and this list goes on. As Shell and I’s time came to an end all I could do was be thankful that I got extra time with her and be excited that she was going to show everyone what she was capable of. Shell is the perfect match for her partner.

Guide Dogs for the Blind truly empowers lives by creating exceptional partnerships between people, dogs, and communities just like their mission statement says.

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