Guide Dogs of the Desert put out a call Friday for volunteer foster families to help raise and train puppies to be companions to blind and visually impaired clients.

The nonprofit has 20 poodles and black Labrador retrievers in need of foster families who can commit to 18-month terms, beginning next month. The puppies will be between 8 and 12 months old at the time of adoption.

Puppy raisers will be provided with training sessions, various outings with other volunteers and additional support. “And when the puppy is old enough to be matched with their human — well, that’s when you change someone’s life,” according to the nonprofit.

The service is free for clients, who upon being matched with an animal, are given extensive training on how to adjust to living with a guide dog.

“Students that graduate from Guide Dogs of the Desert leave with the gift of newfound confidence, independence, mobility, and infinite smiles,” according to the organization’s website.

Volunteers are the key to the operation, the nonprofit said.

The Whitewater-based organization was founded in 1972. In that time, it has provided its clients more than 800 trained guide dogs.

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