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The Life of a Guide Dog Puppy

I am a very special pup! I hope to become the eyes for a blind or visually impaired person someday! I was born at Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Rafael, California. When I am 8 weeks old I can go home with my new family. My family is one of more than 1000 volunteers in the 8 western states raising Guide Dog puppies—labs, golden retrievers, and lab/golden retriever crosses.

 

During the next 12-16 months, they will teach me:

 

  • To have excellent house manners.

  • To be confident, self-controlled, and well-behaved wherever they take me—to restaurants, grocery stores, shopping malls, playgrounds, and on buses and trains.

  • To be calm around other animals.

  • To be calm around people—even children.

 

My puppy raisers received a training manual and they take me to club meetings every week so they can learn how to help me become a guide dog. When I am between 14-18 months old, I will be mature enough to begin my advanced training at the Guide Dog school. That is when I will learn to wear a harness and lead someone who can’t see. After about 2-3 months of advanced training, I’ll spend 2 weeks in training with my new blind partner.

 

Once we complete our schooling, we will be ready to graduate! Guide Dogs for the Blind has a special graduation ceremony each month, and my puppy raiser will be there to hand my leash over to my blind person. It will be a memorable day for all of us! After the ceremony it will be time for me to go home with my blind person and we will start our new life together. I’ll miss my puppy raising family, but they helped me become one of the most treasured and remarkable dogs in the world.

 

Raise a puppy; change a life!

 

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Isn't it hard to give your Guide Dog puppy up?

Yes! But if the puppy you raised becomes a guide, you have the opportunity to meet the blind person and see them work together. That is a life-changing experience! Something else to remember, there couldn’t be guide dogs without puppy raisers willing to commit the time and love to train a pup and then give it up. It’s hard, but it’s worth it! There aren’t many gifts of more value than sight!

 

For a variety of reasons, not all pups become guide dogs. If not selected as a guide dog, the pup you raised could become a guide dog breeder. It could also become a “Canine Buddy” to a blind youth or go on to be trained by another service. If not, the dog may be offered back to its raiser for adoption. If the raiser does not adopt or place the dog, Guide Dogs for the Blind will choose a wonderful family (from their long waiting list) to adopt the dog.