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Nampa teen raises puppy to become assistance dog to help others

Posted at 10:32 PM, Jul 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-27 00:32:35-04

A Nampa teenager knows that meaning of the word "unselfish."

In fact, he embodies it.

Dylan Gish is taking on more than a service project; it’s an act love. He’s raising a puppy named Susan for Canine Companions for Independence.

“It’s a big commitment, but it’s also really fun,” says Gish.

The non-profit provides highly trained assistance dogs, free of charge, to people with disabilities. But before that happens, Dylan and Susan will be inseparable for the next 18 months. They are also part of a larger Canine Companion chapter here in Boise. 

Susan is fitting in well with her extended four-legged Treasure Valley family.

This chapter is a mix of dogs -- some still being raised for their future companions, and others already working with their forever friend. “If kids, if teenage boys are willing to really put their heart into this and help someone they don’t even know, that they could never potentially meet, it’s just really heartfelt. It’s incredible what they do,” says Katelynn Jessen, who works for the Santa Rosa, California-based charity.

Dylan and Susan attend weekly training classes, and, at this point, Dylan admits there is a lot of work to be done. “My mom had furry slippers, and she barked at them for an hour and half," said Dylan. "You’d never really think she would go on to help someone in a wheelchair like open doors and stuff.”

You can clearly see the bond these two are developing. And yet, even though Susan is man’s best friend, she’s not meant for this young man. “Like, after a year and a half of loving on them and thinking they are yours in reality, they are not going to be yours for most of their life. But to just be a part of their journey -- that’s the great part. Makes you feel good,” touts Dylan.

6 On Your Side is committed to following Susan’s journey over the next couple of years. Click here if you would like more information about how to receive a dog or volunteer for Canine Companions for Independence.