Some may have coped with the death of a pet, but it might be
somewhat less normal to have chosen to say goodbye in order to
benefit someone else’s life.
Janet Bayless, the executive director of Canine Partners of the
Rockies, helps raise service dogs to help people with disabilities
other than blindness.
“At a very early age these dogs are little sponges for
information,” Bayless said.
Canine Partners of the Rockies is currently training 18 dogs,
Bayless said. For the first seven to eight weeks the “puppy
starter” teaches the dog the basics like the command “sit.”
“Sometimes the puppy starter becomes the puppy raiser,” Bayless
said. “It all just depends on the dog and the person.”
Bayless grew up around dogs and has been involved with service
dogs for the last seven years. She recognizes the difficulty of
letting a pet go after growing attached to it.
“Of course it is difficult,” Bayless said. “We like to say the
way to deal is to drink a lot of red wine and eat a lot of
chocolate. We cry a lot.”
The trained dogs are usually placed within 18 months, Bayless
“It’s good to know we are making a difference,” Bayless said.
“We also get to see this change in the dogs. They really like what
Not all dogs are cut out for the service life and those who are
not are adopted out to good families, she said.
“We recently released a dog that just wasn’t happy,” Bayless
said. “We let the puppy raisers have the first shot at adopting
them. If they can’t adopt we look for a good, caring home.”
Canine Partners of the Rockies mostly uses Golden Retriever and
Labradors, but sometimes it uses Standard Poodles, Bayless
When asked what qualities a person who wants to train dogs
should have, Bayless said, “patience, patience and patience. Along
with consistency, patience is the most important quality.”
Training isn’t the only reason people decide to foster animals.
The Cat Care Society in Lakewood has about 20 volunteers taking
care of kittens and cats waiting to be adopted by permanent
“We have foster parents for underage kittens until they reach
two pounds,” said Sherri Leggett, the shelter manager. “We also
have foster parents for orphan kittens and older cats.”
Although these cats aren’t going to help people with
disabilities, they do make people happy.
“Once you realize you can help that many kittens (it becomes
worthwhile),” Leggett said. “We are putting them into really good
Volunteers are not always cut out to be foster parents, Leggett
“The first two or three times it is difficult because they do
get attached,” Leggett said. “We have had some volunteers adopt
Darlene Mason, a volunteer at the Cat Care Society, has been
taking care of kittens since 1987 and has dealt with the heartache
of letting the cats go.
“It’s very sad in some cases,” Mason said. “It’s difficult, but
I can deal with it. I know they are going to good homes so it is
Mason has been tempted to adopt many of her foster cats, but she
has avoided temptation.
“You have to be realistic about it,” Mason said. “It’s just like
a parent. You know your kids are going to grow up and you have to
deal with that. You can’t let emotions get in the way.”
The Larimer Humane Society finds fewer problems with foster
parents wanting to adopt.
“A lot of our volunteers are college students who can’t make a
commitment (to take care of an animal) full time,” said Cary
Rentola, the manager of community relations.
Rentola said the bond between humans and animals has been around
“The animal is really an extension of the family,” Rentola
Although the bond is still present between a foster parent and a
pet, these volunteers find the outcomes more rewarding than the
immediate pain of saying goodbye.
“Nothing worth doing is ever easy,” Bayless said. “The more
worthwhile (something) is, the harder it is to do.”