For someone without sight, a Guiding Eyes dog is a priceless, life-changing gift providing independence, companionship, and mobility. Guiding Eyes puppy raisers come from all walks of life and include couples, families with children, young adults, and senior citizens. The volunteers welcome 8 week-old puppies into their homes and with full support from the nonprofit, including training classes and free vet care. Raisers love, nurture, and educate the puppies for a 14 to 16 month period before sending them off to their calling as a guide dog for a blind or visually impaired person.
As part of the open house event, prospective volunteers will have the opportunity to learn more about the program, meet Guiding Eyes staff and volunteers, and cuddle with some very special pups.
“Without the extraordinary dedication of our puppy raisers, we would simply be unable to provide guide dogs to the blind and visually impaired,” said Maureen Hollis, regional manager of Guiding Eyes’ puppy raising program. Puppy raising classes are held on Monday evenings in either Granby or Avon. Following the open house, prospective raisers will be invited to attend an orientation series beginning on Monday, October 14 from 6:00pm – 8:00pm. RSVPs are required for the orientation series and potential volunteers must attend all three classes to become a puppy raiser.
“If you just read one story, watch one video, or talk to one person who has had their life enhanced by a Guiding Eyes dog, then you will want to become a raiser too,” said Becky Junco of East Granby, a third-time puppy raiser for Guiding Eyes. “There will be tears of joy, pride, and hope when you take your grown dog back to the training center, knowing one day he or she will be a priceless gift to someone in need.”
Volunteers are always invited to attend the graduation ceremony of the dog that they helped to raise, which typically commences approximately six months after sending the puppy back to Guiding Eyes for formal training. It’s during this celebration that the raisers have the opportunity to meet the dog’s new partner and truly understand the impact that a guide dog has in the life of a person with vision loss.
“Raising Wanda has been one of the best experiences in my life,” said first-time puppy raiser Cathy Creighton of Suffield, who shares the responsibilities with her daughter, Abbie. “Wanda brings joy and laughter into our lives. She inspires our hard work and dedication – it doesn’t get much better. We know she will one day do great things.”
The Guiding Eyes Puppy Raising Program is comprised of more than 400 volunteers from Maine to North Carolina. Some already have forever pets of their own, while others commit to raising guide dogs as a way to give back. Raisers live in urban, suburban, and rural areas, in apartments, townhomes, and single-family residences. No matter the circumstance, all puppy raisers agree that the program is emotionally rewarding in a multitude of ways.
“When you raise a puppy it is like raising a child,” said Lillian Busse of Torrington, an eight-time puppy raiser for Guiding Eyes. “You give the pup the best education you can, make sure they have good manners and behave in public. Yes, it is hard to give them up – but if you ever see a guide dog in action it is well worth it and you’ll know exactly why you continue to raise.”
The First Congregational Church is located at 219 North Granby Road, Granby, CT. To RSVP for the open house or to learn more about the Northern Connecticut puppy raising region, contact Maureen Hollis at 845-490-0143 or email@example.com. For additional information on Guiding Eyes' Puppy Raising Program, call 1-866-GEB-LABS or visit www.guidingeyes.org/volunteer/puppy-raising/.
About Guiding Eyes for the Blind
Guiding Eyes for the Blind is an internationally accredited 501(c)(3) nonprofit guide dog school founded in 1954. Since its inception, Guiding Eyes has grown to be one of the foremost guide dog schools in the world, known for its cutting-edge training programs, commitment to excellence, and dedication to its elite and superbly trained guide dogs. In 2008, the school launched Heeling Autism, a service dog program designed to provide safety and companionship for children on the autism spectrum. Guiding Eyes provides all of its services at no cost, and is dependent upon contributions to fulfill its mission. The organization’s Headquarters and Training Center is located in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. and its Canine Development Center is in Patterson, N.Y. For more info, visit www.guidingeyes.org, like Guiding Eyes on Facebook (www.facebook.com/guidingeyes) or follow @guidingeyes on Twitter.