Marissa Pfeiffer, of Manorville, is currently raising service pup, Freckles, with her daughter, Erin.
The puppy is part of Canine Companions puppy raiser program.
Pfeiffer first met a puppy in training years ago, but with working full-time and raising children, she said, it was never the right time.
“I always said, when my son is in kindergarten and all my kids are full-time, I am going to do it. My son is now in eighth grade, so now is the time,” she said, also adding that she is a lifelong volunteer and an animal lover. “I believe in giving back and doing good for other people.”
Canine Companions provides service dogs to adults, children, and veterans with disabilities and facility dogs to professionals working in health care, criminal justice, and educational settings. Since their founding in 1975, their dogs and all follow-up services are provided at no cost to their clients.
Volunteer puppy raisers provide the future service dogs a safe home, take them to obedience classes, provide a healthy diet, socialization opportunities, and give lots of love.
Freckles is a 7-month-old female Lab-golden cross, who is expected to graduate and be matched with a person with disabilities in February 2025.
The Pfeiffers will have her until August 2024. At that time, she will say goodbye for six months until graduation.
It’s their family’s first Canine Companions puppy.
“It’s been a very interesting learning experience about myself and a true lesson in patience. The brilliance that this dog has—it’s mind-blowing how smart she is,” she said. “I am really looking forward to turning her in and seeing where she goes, as hard as it’s going to be,” she added. “She’s our puppy, but someone else’s dog. The whole point of doing this is for someone else.”