Facilitating a Better Life For Veterans Through Canine Companionship and Service


Smoky Mountain Service Dogs will enlist the help of, and depend greatly upon, the “volunteer spirit” and generosity of the community to support its efforts in providing well-qualified service dogs to those in need.

Puppy Raisers — How Does the Program Work?

SMSD invites volunteers to assist us in providing our puppies in training with the best possible environment in which to grow and develop their service skills by being a PUPPY RAISERIt is desirable that our puppy raisers reside within a reasonable distance from our training facility in Lenoir City, Tennessee.

What Does It Mean To Be A Puppy Raiser?

  • Raise the puppy for at least a 9-12 month period. Puppies may also be co-raised with another volunteer.
  • Be responsible for housebreaking, crate training, teaching the puppy basic acceptable house manners and basic obedience skills under the guidance of our trainers.
  • Be responsible for transporting the puppy to and from training classes at the SMSD kennel and for various appointments to receive veterinary/medical care.
  • Be responsible for taking the puppy into public establishments several times per week.
  • The ideal puppy raiser will have someone available the majority of the day to devote time and exercise patience with housebreaking, chewing, and other house manners.

What does Smoky Mountain Service Dogs provide to you?

  • Dog food, Dog treats, Preventative medications (heartworm/flea control), Veterinary care, ID card for Puppy Raiser, ID tag for collar, Service Dog Vest, Regular classes for Puppy Raiser and Puppy, Foster Manual and Liability insurance.
  • Crates and additional items may also be provided on as add-needed basis.

Respite Providers: Respite providers are volunteers who offer their home for temporary relief to puppy raisers, for adolescent dogs in the kennel and to long-term fosters of adolescent dogs who have planned vacations or emergencies. Respite providers also offer weekend stays to relieve SMSD kennel staff or when a dog needs a temporary home while awaiting adoption. The ideal respite providers will be capable of providing short-term care and will be well versed in all areas of training.  Respite providers will also help to socialize the dogs and work with necessary verbal commands.

This position is currently filled.  Please check back in with us in six months to see if we have openings for Respite Providers.


Puppy Raisers and Respite Fosters will provide the following services and equipment:

  • Inside living arrangements for the dog.
  •  Feeding and fresh water daily.
  • Adequate exercise daily. Fenced-in yard access is available via other volunteers.
  • Public access outings as outlined in the Canine Training Handbook.
  • Report any odd or problematic behaviors to the trainer immediately.
  • Maintain the dog’s current level of training.
  • Provide crate appropriate for a 60-pound dog or larger.
  • Grooming tools.

Smoky Mountain Service Dogs will provide the following:

  • Dog food and training treats.
  • Preventative medications (heartworm/flea control).
  • Veterinary care.
  • ID card for Canine Handler, ID tag for collar.
  • Service Dog Vest.
  • Puppy Training and Canine Handler online training course and Manuals.
  • Liability insurance.

Other volunteer opportunities include:

Canine Transporter – Assist SMSD Training Staff with transport of dogs in training to and from the SMSD kennel in Lenoir City to various training locations. Trips average approximately two hours.

Community Events/PR team – Assist SMSD with fundraisers, festival appearances, and other PR activities.

Other – If you have a special skill or talent you’d like to offer, please let us know!


Thank you for your interest in volunteering with SMSD.

Sign up as a volunteer