PUPPY LOVE: Volunteer puppy raiser offers tips on housebreaking Fido

birdsell puppy training

Marietta Birdsell, a volunteer puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence, shakes the paw of Couley, one of 10 puppies she has raised.

FILE PHOTO | News Bulletin
Published: Thursday, February 14, 2013 at 02:15 PM.

CRESTVIEW — He's cute. He's huggable. He's adorable. The way he tumbles over his big paws and his floppy ears seems precious.

But after a few weeks, the new puppy in your life might become tiresome — especially after he gnaws your favorite slippers to shreds.

The secret to raising a cooperative, well-adjusted dog is comparable to raising cooperative, well-adjusted children, experts say. Both need structure and — in canines' case, at least — an unequivocal understanding of who is the alpha dog.

"Structure and guidance and sprinkled with a little bit of love" is how Marietta Birdsell, a certified volunteer puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence, puts it.

Since 2001, Birdsell has raised 10 dogs in her Crestview home. Each graduated to commence adult training for ultimate placement with a disabled person.

Stevenson — her most recent puppy, who left her care in November — receives advanced adult training at CCI's southeast regional dog training center in Orlando. Birdsell expects to receive a new eight-week-old puppy in March.

"It's hard to believe I've been doing this so long; my first puppy is on the verge of retiring," she said, adding that annual Christmas cards help her keep up with her former charges.

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