Photo Credit: @ Guide Dogs for the Blind
Stepping out of a bus, a man secures a squirming tan puppy in his arms. “Can you guess his name?!” The tall man with a kind smile hollers to the crowd. “Hadrian! From Litter "H."
A mother and her two children, all smiles, pluck Hadrian out of the man’s arms and hold him tightly as the puppy licks their faces. The little ten-week-old Lab is going to his volunteer puppy raiser family where he will be socialized and learn basic obedience during the next year. This is the beginning of the lengthy, dedicated, and heartwarming process of creating a guide dog that can be safely paired with a blind or visually impaired person.
“Can you guess his name?!”
The tall man with a kind smile hollers to the crowd.
“Hadrian!” From Litter "H!"
Today it’s all happening right in the Redmond Microsoft Campus parking lot. Microsoft has a long history of supporting and partnering with local nonprofits.
Brooks and Kent, the “Puppy Truck Drivers” are preparing to deliver another one of their precious cargo pups to a host family. All volunteers, the individuals or families are screened and selected because they meet the criteria and standards required help help build the foundation for these puppies to become guide dogs?
Photo Credit: @ Guide Dogs for the Blind
Its a labor of love.
Its a labor of love. After about a year, the dogs must be returned to the training facility, and then delivered back to the Guide Dogs for the Blind campus with care in the high-tech transport truck, for more formal guide dog skill work. Not all the dogs will make it as guide dogs; some are just not suitable for the intense and specific guide dog work. Sometimes dogs change careers during their training and are matched with other nonprofits.
Photo Credit: @seattlepupmagazine
It takes on average
to help a single puppy become a guide dog.
With a big grin and a “Follow My Lead” T-shirt, a puppy raiser passes out a baseball trading type card, one with a picture of their guide dog in training. On the back, basic information about the dog is listed. Each region typically has a Guide Dogs for the Blind club, or group that help support each other and gain resources to help with facilitating the successful guide dog training journey. This volunteer puppy raiser is working with her eleventh dog.
Photo Credit: @Guide Dogs for the Blind
“We only use positive reinforcement” she states, regarding training methods used with the dogs. She says the organization supports the dogs and puppy raiser needs throughout the entire process, including training techniques and medical needs. While it can be difficult to part with their puppies after a year, the puppy raisers keep the end goal in mind.
Standing behind the crowd, Cory and his guide dog, Vine, listen to all the commotion and excitement. He’s there because he is a guide dog recipient and a full-time Microsoft employee. Cory applied to receive a guide dog and had to navigate through a number of phone interviews and in-home visits to make sure of a good fit. There is a lot of responsibility for all parties involved.
Cory and Vine have been paired for over five years and he calls her “a consummate professional." Cory has a role with Microsoft that typically requires travel. It was difficult to be in new places alone but with Vine, Cory obtained a new independence. With strong navigation skills, she is able to lead him when he travels in “complex places." “I couldn’t have the job I have without Vine.”
Guide Dogs for the Blind is a nationally recognized nonprofit which trains and provides service dogs. Both dogs and humans must go through extensive training prior to being paired. For 77 years, since 1942, Guide Dogs for the Blind, has been training dogs, networking puppy raisers, donors, and other volunteers. Hundreds of partnerships have been created across the United States and Canada.
Currently the Guide Dogs for the Blind has two campuses, one in San Rafael, California and the other in Boring, Oregon. Instruction classes, transportation to California or Oregon, and other services are all provided at no cost and includes lifetime support with regards to veterinary care, visits, and help when it comes to a dog’s retirement from service.
Seattle Pup Magazine strongly encourages our readers help! "It takes on average 251 volunteers to help a single puppy become a guide dog." There are numerous ways to make a difference, from being puppy raisers, to foster care providers and campus volunteers. Businesses big and small can become corporate and foundation partners and individuals, groups, and companies can donate to this fantastic cause.
Microsoft has partnered with Guide Dogs for the Blind, Guide Dogs (UK), Lighthouse for the Blind, and Vision Australia and produced Soundapp a three-dimensional map made of 3-D sound, which helps people navigate their world. For more details click here.
DOGS MAKE THE DIFFERENCE!