At six months old, Waldo is well on his way to his future as an assistance dog. This August, Waldo attended his first graduation ceremony to get a glimpse what his future could hold. But this wasn’t just any graduation ceremony. This one was extra special for his puppy raiser, Lisa.

Waldo is Lisa’s second Canine Companions® puppy, and at this ceremony her first puppy, Sawyer III, graduated as a facility dog with a children’s advocacy center. Sawyer will be working with children who are victims of abuse in counseling sessions, forensic interviews and in the courtroom. Lisa says this is what puppy raising is all about for her.

“I knew my prayers had been answered after meeting Sawyer’s new handlers,” said Lisa. “He truly found his perfect match and purpose, sharing love with everyone he comes in contact with.”

At graduation, Waldo watched as his puppy raiser proudly handed over Sawyer’s leash. It wasn’t all watching from a distance, though. Waldo and Sawyer got to meet for the first time, and even had a photoshoot together.

This was a very special day for Lisa. She says her puppy raising experience with Sawyer was what made her want to raise again, leading her to Waldo.

After a public matriculation ceremony, puppy raisers return the puppy they raised back to Canine Companions for professional training. This can be a very emotional time but there’s a silver lining which is the reason people will do it time and time again. “Puppy matriculation was one of the top five hardest things I’ve done in my life so far,” said Lisa. “For me as a puppy raiser, the answer remains the same as to why. Every piece of my heart that I pour into Waldo will go towards helping one or many in the days ahead.”

It’s safe to say Waldo has some big paws to fill, but his journey is just beginning.

If you are interested in raising a puppy like Waldo, visit cci.org/puppyraiser.