- Since I have always loved dogs and people, I wanted to raise a puppy that would someday go on to make somebody's life more independent. I knew that if I was disabled that I would want a dog to be by my side to help me through the hard times and just to be there accepting who I was and so I wanted to give that to somebody else.
- I just love dogs! I've always loved dogs and always will love dogs! Before I started puppy raising I was fostering dogs for a local dog rescue. I learned a lot about dogs from those years, but something was missing... people. I needed to have a dog that would make an eternal difference in the life of a person!!! Sure people love their pet dogs, but does fostering a dog change their life? No! I wanted to use my love of dogs and my passion for people to give glory to God.
- I felt God telling me that puppy raising was something that I should pursue. I prayed about it for a couple of months and felt God telling me to go out into the big wide world and do something to bring him glory. Raising CCI dogs puts me in contact with people that need to hear somebody saying that God cares about them, that God loves them, and that God has a plan for them. Some of CCI's graduates may feel that people ignore that they too are people because they have a mere disability. As a puppy raiser I can show that that is not true.
- I love dog training. I didn't like fostering as much as puppy raising, because we didn't do a whole lot with dog training. Though I was assigned some dogs that needed manners and provided basic obedience for them, I wanted the challenge of teaching more advanced commands.
- I wanted to get involved with a new group of people (CCI graduates, staff, volunteers, and puppy raisers). I love CCI people! they are happy, positive, nice people trying to help other people and they love dogs just like me. The volunteer puppy raisers at CCI have really accepted me and helped me along my journey with Dembre. There are two places that I have found real community in my life. One is my Church and the group of sister Churches all across the world. My Church family has always been there for me and prayed for me and just been willing to listen to me. The second is CCI people! All these people have come together with common interests. They all care about people and helping them and they all care about dogs. The funny thing is I got involved in CCI through my friend Mary Beth, who goes to my Church.
- I love Labrador and Golden Retrievers. My beloved pet, Pepin, is a Golden Retriever and I love her so very much. Mary Beth's dogs were always Lab/Golden crosses and I really liked the mix. I loved watching her well behaved smart dogs walk along at her side ignoring distractions and listening to commands. Now that I have had a Golden Retriever, fostered multiple rescued Labs, and am raising a Lab, I realize that their not perfect dogs. They tend to have good personalities, but they still need a lot of work just like every other breed of dog.
- Last but not least, I like talking to people! I get to talk to people every place that I take Dembre. I have decided that CCI's saying "It is a compliment when somebody doesn't notice your dog," and I realized that it was true. Though I enjoy telling people about CCI and service dogs, but sometimes you just want your dog to lay down and stay unnoticed so that when you are trying to shop in a store you don't get into a long conversation and forget what you were doing :D
~Elijah & Dembre