Proceeds from book sponsors service puppy training

Nutella (Tella) was the inspiration and real life story behind the children's book, Purposeful Pup, written by Patric Rayburn. Proceeds from the book have sponsored training classes for future service dogs.

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Nutella (Tella) was the inspiration and real life story behind the children's book, Purposeful Pup, written by Patric Rayburn. Proceeds from the book have sponsored training classes for future service dogs.

It was through a released puppy from the Canine Companions program that gained the attention of husband and wife Patric and Kathleen Rayburn.

Founded in 1975, the program “is the largest provider of service dogs in the world serving adults, children and veterans with disabilities … at no cost to their clients,” according to its website.

“This dog was perfect - put its toys away, obeyed dozens of commands and still didn’t make it through the program. I was fascinated about how a dog that smart and well-tempered couldn’t make it through the program. I learned that I could take a couple of classes and become a puppy sitter,” said Patric.

He explained when the dogs are in that one and a half year training period (first phase) and the puppy raiser is “otherwise engaged” the pup needs to be watched by someone who has the education to continue the training in progress – not in a regular kennel or a regular dog sitter.

“I took a couple of classes, became a puppy sitter and was hooked,” he said. “I love dogs and loved the process of training and seeing what they can do is just miraculous.

“Then an opportunity came up. There was this little puppy named Nutella who was incredibly small, like the size of a cantaloupe and did not have a full time puppy raiser. We took the plunge and dedicated that year and a half to raising her,” Patric added.

The story of Nutella’s (nicknamed Tella) 18-month journey produced a children’s book, Purposeful Pup, written and rhymes in both English and Spanish. The author said it’s a “bit of a love letter to puppy raisers – the dedication to all the hands that help and hold them along the way.”

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Purposeful Pup, written and self-published by Patric Rayburn, is the true story of Nutella's first 18 months of service dog training. Proceeds from the children's book have been used to sponsor the training of future service dogs.

Credit: contri

Purposeful Pup, written and self-published by Patric Rayburn, is the true story of Nutella's first 18 months of service dog training. Proceeds from the children's book have been used to sponsor the training of future service dogs.

Credit: contri

caption arrowCaption
Purposeful Pup, written and self-published by Patric Rayburn, is the true story of Nutella's first 18 months of service dog training. Proceeds from the children's book have been used to sponsor the training of future service dogs.

Credit: contri

Credit: contri

Puppy raisers are volunteers that commit to a year and a half of service dog training, taking on the financial cost of service dog classes, food, toys and medical assistance.

“It can be easy to discount all that happens in a year. It can be easy to simplify things like taking the dog to the grocery store or to class. The dogs are with you virtually the entire day. Nutella came to work with me every day. She flew with me, went to the grocery store, barber, just by my side for a year and a half,” he noted. “I say this lovingly with all the love in my heart, I held her leash more in that year and a half than I held my wife’s hand. You create such a bond and mentorship connection that when you let that leash go to somebody with a disability knowing what they are going to do is so amazing, it’s such an emotional and beautiful moment that I hope comes across in the book.

“The book was really just a passion project to tell a story. Part of the mission of the book is to help out with some of the costs that the volunteer puppy raisers incur along the way,” the author said.

Last November during Giving Tuesday, proceeds from the book sponsored 10 future service dogs training classes for the month. “It went over so well that I wanted to see if we could sponsor another ten dogs for a month or one dog for 10 months,” Patric stated.

Sponsoring training for one dog grew to instruction for two dogs – both in Sandy Springs – Shep and Tally.

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Tally is the 20th puppy that Cecilia Kurland and her daughter, Abigail Whitlock, will have raised and trained to be a future service dog. “At age 11 Abigail wanted a puppy. This was a way for my daughter to have a puppy but to also do something for others,” said Kurland. (Pictured L-R: Cecilia Kurland, Patric Raburn with Tally in his lap).

Credit: cont

Tally is the 20th puppy that Cecilia Kurland and her daughter, Abigail Whitlock, will have raised and trained to be a future service dog. “At age 11 Abigail wanted a puppy. This was a way for my daughter to have a puppy but to also do something for others,” said Kurland. (Pictured L-R: Cecilia Kurland, Patric Raburn with Tally in his lap).

Credit: cont

caption arrowCaption
Tally is the 20th puppy that Cecilia Kurland and her daughter, Abigail Whitlock, will have raised and trained to be a future service dog. “At age 11 Abigail wanted a puppy. This was a way for my daughter to have a puppy but to also do something for others,” said Kurland. (Pictured L-R: Cecilia Kurland, Patric Raburn with Tally in his lap).

Credit: cont

Credit: cont

“Puppy raisers give a piece of their heart every time they raise and give a puppy back to the program so it can go on and fulfill its purpose. Ultimately, I think it would be great if puppy raisers didn’t have to give a piece of their budget, even if it’s a small piece, to participate in the program,” he said.

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Each Sunday we write about a deserving person or charity events such as fun-runs, volunteer projects and other community gatherings that benefit a good cause. To submit a story for us to cover, send to ajc.doinggood@gmail.com.