It was through an advertisement at her local library in Wisconsin that Ann Smetana first learned about Can Do Canines. It’s been almost two years and numerous weekend fosters since, and Ann will happily tell you she believes her family has become Weekend Puppy Raisers for life!
In the spring of 2017, the Smetana family started their journey as Weekend Puppy Raisers for Polly, a Black Labrador Retriever being raised at Jackson Correctional Institution (JCI) in Black River Falls, Wisconsin. Twice a month they ventured to JCI to pick up their pre-assigned puppy for a few days of socialization. Since the puppies need to be exposed to the many social and public situations they do not experience while in prison—such as children, other pets, and crowds—these weekend furloughs consist of many outings and family time. Luckily for Polly, the Smetana family welcomed her into their home more than twenty times!
As the Wisconsin program grows, more help is needed to complete home visits. Ann recently underwent training to become a home visit volunteer and she visits the homes of those who have recently applied to the Puppy Program. She helps conduct interviews and makes sure the home is a good fit for a future assistance dog.
When asked about her favorite memory from her time volunteering with Can Do Canines, Ann responds, “This past summer my friend Megan and I went to the volunteer appreciation picnic with our current weekend puppies, Earl and Folly. I also got to be reunited with my family’s first foster puppy, Polly, and she remembered me! It was really neat to see how how she changed and to meet her current foster! It was also special to see all the clients and their service dogs that others have trained as well.”
If you’re thinking of volunteering, Ann would tell you, “Do it! There are so many ways you can help out. Can Do Canines has become a part of our family and we enjoy the puppies so much. Our little girls aren’t sad when the puppies leave because they are going to go do great things and make others happy. They actually are looking forward to the next puppy! I think we are Weekend Puppy Raisers for life now!”
A huge thank you to Ann and her family for opening their hearts and their home to puppies in training. We are glad that you are part of our team.