Volunteers raising future service dogs

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Jenny Sherman and her partner, Terrance, are raising Titus, a 1-year-old Lab-golden retriever mix. They're teaching him all of things you teach a dog to do.

But this August, they will be saying goodbye to Titus. The reason? They are his temporary parents for a year and a half. They're volunteer puppy raisers for Canine Companions for Independence.

Anthony Kozberg is also a volunteer puppy raiser. Kandy is the 9th dog that Anthony has raised for Canine Companions.

The organization gives the service dogs free of charge to people with special needs such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, and autism. But they wouldn't be able to do it without the help of volunteer puppy raisers. On average, the volunteers spend between $1,000 and $3,000 of their own money to raise the service dogs for the first year-and-a-half of their lives. The dogs are then turned over to Canine Companions for advanced training.

The volunteers' commitment and hard work change the lives of people like Veronica Siaba, 17, of Queens, who has cerebral palsy. She was matched with Lynch three years ago. Lynch can pick up items that she drops, like her phone. He can open and close her drawers and turn the lights off and on. In an emergency, Lynch can bark if her parents can't hear her.
Veronica says the volunteers who raised Lynch are awesome and she thanks them. She also says that Lynch isn't just a dog; he is family and one of her best friends.