Raise a Puppy, Change a Life!
Raising a puppy for Guiding Eyes for the Blind is a real gift of love. A puppy is not born a guide dog, but created through the dedication and commitment of an entire team of individuals. Puppy Raisers are the pivotal members of that team. Puppy Raisers provide a home, teach good social skills and house manners, attend training classes, coordinate care with Guiding Eyes veterinary staff and much more to raise a successful guide dog.
The relationship and bond between the raiser and pup will become the foundation for all the life lessons a guide dog needs to master. Raisers provide hours of patient teaching and numerous socialization journeys before they return a well-socialized young adult dog to Guiding Eyes training staff. All of the raiser’s hard work culminates when a blind person receives their priceless gift – a guide dog providing independence, companionship, and mobility.
The Guiding Eyes network of puppy raisers includes a broad spectrum of caring individuals from various walks of life. They include couples, families with children, young adults and senior citizens. Some already have pets of their own. Raisers live in urban, suburban, and rural areas – and in apartments, town-homes, and single-family homes. Sixty percent of Guiding Eyes raisers are repeat raisers – meaning they have raised more than one Guiding Eyes puppy. It is a testimony to the program that so many raisers renew their commitment to raise another puppy. A few have raised as many as 35 puppies!
How Puppies are Evaluated
Guiding Eyes for the Blind is one of the few guide dog schools in the world that evaluate the temperament of four to eight week-old puppies. This allows us to focus our funding and, even more valued, our resource of volunteer puppy raisers on the puppies with the greatest potential to one day meet our mission of helping the blind.
We look for patterns of behavior indicating how well the puppy adapts to change, its quickness of learning, its energy level, its reactions to noises and novel objects after repeated socialization, and finally its willingness to turn its attention to people, even when tempted by sniffing or another dog. These characteristics are a good indication that the puppy can potentially succeed as a guide dog.
With careful observation of the puppies, and at least two formal temperament tests conducted on each puppy about three to four days apart, we make a decision on the career path that best suits each puppy. Puppies demonstrating less adaptability are often the ones who prefer to be cuddled these puppies make ideal pets. Others with high energy and strong preferences to sniff and pursue their own instinctual interests are placed as future detection dogs.
Puppy Raiser Responsibilities
- Make the puppy part of your family
- Teach good social skills and house manners
- Attend training classes and assessment meetings
- Coordinate all health care with GEB veterinary staff
- Expose the puppy to a variety of experiences
- Give the puppy up when ready for training
Guiding Eyes Responsibilities:
- Give each raiser the right puppy
- Education, guidance and support through puppy raising
- Provide all veterinary care
- Arrange the puppy’s transportation to and from Guiding Eyes Headquarters in N.Y.
- Provide regular updates when dog is in training
- Invitation to graduation – opportunity to meet the blind recipient of the dog you have raised