With 180 people suffering from medical troubles on its waiting list, Can Do Canines is grateful to receive donated puppies that can be trained to do everything from sniffing out diabetes to calming children with autism.
But in the past month, the New Hope nonprofit has run into a puppy problem. A good problem.
It has found itself with 21 puppies who need temporary homes, due to an unexpected batch of donated dogs and a new litter from its breeders.
That's not to mention another batch expected soon.
Now the New Hope group is looking for volunteers to raise the puppies for about a year, so they can get ready for their real job of helping Minnesotans with medical needs.
"We want volunteers excited, ready and waiting for these puppies," said volunteer coordinator Laurie Carlson. "We want to get more volunteers so we don't get surprised again."
But puppy raising isn't for everyone, largely because it's roughly a 14-month job — and then the puppies must go to their rightful partners.
Those partners include folks with mobility needs, hearing impairments and people who suffer from seizures.
Some puppies are trained, for example, to pick up and carry objects and push a wheelchair for people who aren't able to walk.
Other puppies are trained to help when their owners suffer a seizure, including bringing them a phone.
Others work with people who are deaf, having been trained to rub against them if the phone rings, a smoke detector sounds or an intruder enters.
It takes roughly 14 months to teach the young pups their new medical skills, and the role of the volunteer is to also teach them how to behave in a home and how to interact in the real world, Carlson said.
While it can be tough for volunteers to part with their dogs, seeing the reaction of their new owner is deeply rewarding, Carlson said. The next puppy "graduation," during which volunteers hand over the leashes, is May 17.
For more information, go to Can-Do-Canines.org.