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A collage of three photographs. Left: Denise crouching next to Harlow with her arm around him. Center: Denise doing training with Harlow, who is sitting and wearing his Future Guide Dog vest, on the waterfront in Halifax. Right: Denise lying on the floor laughing while Harlow gives her a cuddle

Raising Harlow

Becoming a puppy raiser was not only a rewarding opportunity for Denise Kroll, but also inspired her to become a veterinary assistant. 

“I love dogs and have always wanted to work with animals,” she explains.

So, when Denise saw an Instagram post looking for CNIB volunteer puppy raisers in Halifax, she enthusiastically applied. 

In June 2018, Denise was matched with the sweet and loveable Harlow, a black Labrador-golden retriever mix.

“I mean, when someone drops a puppy off at your house, it feels pretty amazing,” says Denise. “I scooped him up and immediately fell in love!”

With his gentle and fast-learning behaviour, Harlow did not take long to impress Denise and her family.

“It’s like he knew that this is his job, his purpose, and he was going to do everything he needed to do to be the best he could be,” says Denise.

She would bring Harlow to Ardmore Park, a service dog park, and meet with other puppy raising families and guide dog handlers. Being able to bring Harlow everywhere she went and see his training in action was a special experience for Denise.

Denise and her family enjoyed puppy raising so much they applied for another volunteer opportunity shortly before Harlow’s advancement. In May 2019, they were matched with Wonder. For the month that the dogs were together, Wonder was able to learn from Harlow’s positive behaviour, which helped with Wonder’s early training. 

In June 2019, Harlow progressed to advanced training in Ottawa. He graduated as part of CNIB Guide Dogs' class of 2019 as a guide dog and was matched with his new handler in British Columbia.

“I felt an enormous swell of happiness and pride,” explains Denise. “I loved seeing Harlow with his match, Tim, for the first time. It was like watching the whole experience come full-circle.”

Denise and her family fell in love with Harlow and they knew he would be a fantastic guide dog for his handler.

“If you love dogs, have some free time, some room in your home and in your family, this is an amazing experience. It was very fulfilling,” says Denise.

Denise’s experience raising Harlow also gave her a strong sense of community. 

“If you want to give back, if you want to learn a lot about obedience training for dogs, if you want to join a community who is making a real difference in people’s lives – become a puppy raiser.” 

For information on puppy raising, visit cnib.ca/PuppyRaising.