Aggie receives privilege of raising PTSD service dog Lyndsay Fountain, Kingwood High School 2012 graduate and a soon-to-be sophomore at Texas A&M University, explained what an honor it is to be a Puppy Raiser for Aggie Guide-Dogs and Service-Dogs. “Along with this being the hardest but greatest thing I’ve done up until this point, it’s also about giving back,” said Fountain. “How many times in our life do we get the opportunity to change another person’s life that we may never meet?” That is the attitude Fountain has adopted since her time with Pongo, a border collie-poodle mix in training who will one day serve as the companion to someone with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Fountain, upbeat and positive, pours her heart and soul into this prestigious duty. Not only is she the second Kingwood High School graduate to raise a service dog at A&M, she is also the first freshman to receive this privilege. Pongo will go through various stages before being handed over to his new owner. It is Fountain’s job to ensure he receives proper training and care during his puppyhood. She has been with Pongo for nearly eight months. His graduation date is set for Oct. 16. According to Aggie Guide-Dogs and Service-Dogs, after being selected from the student body, Puppy Raisers are given a puppy they will train for the next 10-15 months. Responsible for the first phase of training, they must then ensure the puppy receives basic obedience training, plenty of socialzing and unconditional love. Once training is complete, most puppies are sent to nationally-recognized dog training schools, like Power Paws Assistance Dogs in Arizona, for phase two. Puppies raised to serve as PTSD service dogs will be helpful in aiding their future owners in numerous ways. “The dogs help them feel comfortable going into public and help instill a sense of reality. It gives them a purpose to be mobile. The dog serves as a buddy and loyal companion,” said Fountain. But things aren’t always all work and no play. According to Fountain, Pongo is still your average puppy. He loves to play and yes, he will occasionally get into mischief. When asked about what it would be like giving Pongo up, she said, “On days when it’s hard to think about not having him in my life, I think about the bigger purpose he will serve. I know how much he has affected my life in a positive way. He’ll not only change his partner’s life, he’ll have changed mine, too.” To learn more about Aggie Guide-Dogs and Service-Dogs, visit ags.tamu.edu. Photo: Lyndsay Fountain stops for a quick photo in the park with Pongo, the service dog she is raising for Aggie Guide-Dogs and Service-Dogs at Texas A&M University. Photo by Macie Harper

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