Volunteer Story: Kim Salvas

It’s been about twenty years since volunteer Kim Salvas raised her first puppy, “Kaleb,” for Fidelco. In the time since, Kim has raised five more Fidelco dogs. The sixth dog she raised, “Hagrid,” just returned to Fidelco for formal training in March 2024.

Kim standing in front of fire truck with Hagrid between her legs.
Kim Salvas and “Hagrid”

“When I researched volunteer opportunities many years ago, I was immediately drawn to Fidelco because I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life,” says Kim. “At the time, the company I worked for wasn’t a particularly dog-friendly place, so bringing Kaleb to the office was a ‘pilot project’ that quickly became an incredible experience not only for me, but for everyone I worked with. To this day, though I no longer work for the company, many of my former colleagues still support Fidelco’s mission and give generously to social media fundraisers I create on behalf of the organization.”

Kim standing with "Kaleb," a black shepherd, in front of her.
Kim with “Kaleb,” the first Fidelco dog she raised.

Kim became a Breed Dog Caregiver for breed mom, “Tori,” in 2021. When she raised Hagrid, it was the first time she had two Fidelco dogs- albeit on different “career paths”- at once. “I do this by myself without significant help,” Kim says. “But it’s gotten easier over time. It’s gratifying knowing Fidelco can count on me to step in to help with many aspects of their program.”

Kim doing yoga pose on stomach with her eyes closed while "Tori," a sable GSD, laying in front of her, looking at camera.
Kim and “Tori”

Kim has also cared for new moms and puppies in Fidelco’s Pup House, helped to keep our Kennel clean, and spruced up our campus grounds with her gardening skills. “At different times in my life, I’ve been able to contribute in different ways. When I retired, I wanted to do more. Volunteering in the Pup House is just the best! Interacting with newborn puppies is so rewarding and fun.”

All Fidelco guide dogs spend the early part of their journeys- from 8 weeks to about 18 months- in the homes of Volunteer Puppy Raisers. These devoted individuals provide the nurturing environment and socialization training pups need to become steadfast guide dog partners. In her years of puppy raising, Kim has had the opportunity to raise awareness about Fidelco through the curiosity of people drawn to the energetic pups in red vests* that are often by her side.

When I retired, I wanted to do more. Volunteering in the Pup House is just the best!

She reflects, “It sounds like a cliche, but Fidelco is truly like a family. The staff is so welcoming and supportive.”

*A Fidelco dog earns their “red vest” following the successful completion of their first evaluation walk, officially becoming a guide dog-in-training.

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