Dedicated to Doing More: Lisa Butler

Lisa Butler has been part of the earliest beginnings for many Fidelco puppies and dogs. From caring for breed dog mom, “Cyprus,” to rolling up her sleeves to help in the Pup House, and in her first volunteer roles as a Puppy Raiser for “Sable,” Lisa has kept pups and dogs healthy and well loved. This selfless work supports future generations of German Shepherd guide dogs for people who are blind.

Lisa’s volunteer story with Fidelco began when a friend and work colleague toured Fidelco’s guide dog training center. During his visit, he completed a blindfold walk with a trainer and dog in training. Lisa recalls, “He was so impressed with Fidelco’s work raising and training German Shepherd Dogs to become guide dogs. He said, ‘I know how much you like animals and dogs. I think being a Puppy Raisers would be a good fit for you.”

Lisa and her family soon welcomed Fidelco puppy, “Sable,” into their home. As Puppy Raisers, the Butlers provided nurturing care and early raining while exposing Sable to a variety of people, pets, and settings. They attended Saturday Puppy Raiser classes, plus additional sessions if a little extra help was needed. Lisa says, “You can totally go into being a Puppy Raiser with no prior experience. If you’re willing to learn, Fidelco is willing to teach you and give you all the support you need.”

“The first month or two with a puppy are the hardest, but it’s not really hard -it’s more fulfilling,” Lisa shares. “There are many fun, good parts: you get to give them treats as part of their positive training and take them out to public places once they’ve successfully completed their first evaluation walk and earned their ‘red vest,’ signifying a Fidelco dog in-training.”

Fidelco dogs love having a job – they want to work. And you can see how bonded Fidelco dogs become with their person.

After the Puppy Raiser experience, Lisa wanted to do more. Fidelco staff told her about the need for families to care for breed dogs. These special dogs live with volunteer families, with veterinary care and support provided by Fidelco. “Cyprus” soon settled into her new home with the Butlers.

Cyprus had three litters of puppies. Lisa says, “Fidelco has a great Vet-Med department. They walked us through the process, let us know what would happen, the timeline, and how to keep Cyprus healthy and comfortable throughout the 8 to 9-week gestation period.

Puppies are born at Fidelco’s Pup House, with round-the-clock care by staff in the days prior to whelping, and afterwards for moms and their new litters. Pups receive continued care and socialization in the Pup House through their first eight weeks, until they are ready to be placed with their Puppy Raisers.

Lisa also volunteers in the Pup House. She helps with cleaning dog beds and kennels, as well as providing early training and socialization to pups, getting them used to being held and touched, interacting with different toys, and stimuli, and being comfortable around other dogs. Lisa says the experience is “all positive.” One of her favorite taks is giving pups their baths before they go home with their Puppy Raisers.

Cyprus was recently retired as a Fidelco breed dog and was adopted by the Butlers. As their cherished pet, Cyprus lives with Lisa, her husband, Michael, and their two adopted ginger cats. Cyprus has assigned herself the job of gently separating the two cats during their sibling squabbles. She also goes on a 2-mile walks each day and fetches the ball as many times as the Butlers will throw it. “She’s in good shape!” notes Lisa.

Lisa says people often ask, “Isn’t it difficult for the puppies and dogs to train and work so hard?” Lisa tells them, “Fidelco dogs love having a job- they want to work. German Shepherd Dogs gets bored quickly if they don’t have a job. And you can see how bonded Fidelco dogs become with their person.”

Lisa is part of a giving community of volunteers who contribute to Fidelco’s mission in immeasurable ways. Fidelco is grateful to be able to count on the people and families who dedicate time and energy in support of guide dog partnerships for people who are blind.

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