Grateful Spotlight: Puppy Jake Foundation

April 12, 2021

By Suman Sridhar

Is there anything better than puppies and a good cause? Puppy Jake Foundation provides service dogs to aid an oft-overlooked group of people—wounded military veterans. The organization is based in Urbandale, Iowa.  Puppy Jake picks up the puppies from reputable breeders when they’re eight weeks old and works with volunteers to raise and train the dogs for 18-24 months to best help veterans. Volunteers can temporarily foster a puppy, help train them at the organization onsite, or “puppy-sit” from time to time. Whether you’re a volunteer or a veteran, working with these adorable dogs is sure to brighten your day.

Grateful spoke with Maggie Donovan of Puppy Jake Foundation about Puppy Jake’s mission and our partnership.

G: What is the Puppy Jake Foundation?

M: Puppy Jake Foundation is a non-profit organization that trains and provides service dogs to combat wounded veterans.

G: Who do you serve?

M: We serve veterans suffering from PTSD, TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), and/or mobility issues.

G: What is the purpose of your organization? What drove the need for it?

M: Our purpose is to provide service dogs to assist with these issues and help our veterans feel more comfortable and secure both at home and in public.  

Many veterans struggle with symptoms stemming from PTSD and feel that a service dog can help them feel more calm and confident, especially when they need to leave their homes.


G: What does the work that you do entail? How long have you been serving military veterans/been in business? 

M: The majority of the work put in by our trainers and volunteers involves training dogs, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers to learn how to become well-trained service dogs.  

This involves everything from basic good-dog behaviors to more complex service skills like riding an escalator with their handler and helping to pick up dropped items or turn on light switches. 

Puppy Jake Foundation began in February of 2013 and we have been pursuing our mission to help veterans since then.

G: Tell us about the dogs. Where do they come from and why have you chosen these specific breeds?

M: We train Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers beginning when they are 8 weeks old.  They come from a variety of reputable breeders from across the country. 

We find that Labs and Goldens work well in our program for a variety of reasons.  They generally want to please people and will work for food.  They tend to be fairly easy to train, which is nice for our volunteer trainers (we call them “fosters”) who are not required to have any experience training animals.  

Labs and Goldens are also a good size for what we do - they are big enough to be helpful, but not so big as to be cumbersome in public. 

G: What have been some of the biggest highlights for the organization?

M: Every time that we are able to provide a veteran who is suffering with a service dog that will help to ease that pain is a great moment for us.

We also love being at the Iowa State Fair (one of the largest events in our state) every summer and being able to talk with fairgoers about our mission and how we help veterans.

G: Why do people volunteer? 

M: Many people wish to help our foundation with the pups because they love dogs or want to learn more about training them.  A lot of people also feel that this is a great way to help a veteran.

G: Why did you decide to work with Grateful? What did the partnership entail?

M: Grateful reached out to us quite a while back to work with them on their Dollar a Day Campaign.  They were extremely easy to work with and did all the heavy lifting for us, which is advantageous for any non-profit. Grateful took care of just about everything for us.

G: How was your experience working with Grateful? 

M: So far working with Grateful has been a lovely experience. We’ve been getting more introductions to new people and supporters through this experience. 

G: Is there anything else you’d like to add about Puppy Jake?

M: I would just like to let all our donors and volunteers, current and future, know how much we appreciate them and their support of our foundation! 

Improving the emotional and physical well-being of veterans

Puppy Jake not only helps wounded veterans navigate daily life more easily but also brings awareness to veteran mobility impairment and PTSD. Additionally, veterans don’t have to pay for a service dog, which can normally cost as much as $10,000. Whether you volunteer or make a contribution to the organization, you’ll play an important role in improving the lives of America’s heroes. 

If you’re curious about Puppy Jake Foundation (and want to see some pictures of adorable dogs), visit

For more information on how Grateful works with non-profits, check out:

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