By Randy Pierce
How does a puppy get to become as incredible as the Mighty Quinn? It all begins with a puppy raiser opening his or her heart and home to a little bundle of energy. This means committing to educate, socialize and guide the puppy into a promising future.
The relationship and bond between raiser and pup will become the foundation of all the life lessons the puppy will need for his incredible career. This is no small task, so to offer assistance, Guiding Eyes for the Blind organizes puppy raising regions from Maine to North Carolina. They establish a strong support system which allows them to help anyone, regardless of prior experience, successfully raise a puppy!
Puppy raisers come from all walks of life, with many different motivations. Couples, families, students and individuals are all part of the success stories of guide dog teams. These amazing animals will spend from the time they are about 8 weeks old to 18 months old in the keeping of these special people. In this time, they will blossom into confident, curious, intelligent, and (best of all) loving dogs ready to embark on a priceless journey.
After their fostering is over, they go to guide training at the school for six months more. When their training is complete, the school invites puppy raisers to attend the puppy “graduation.” Raisers proudly observe the results of all their generous efforts to change someone’s world.
I can readily attest to the success of this program: the freedom, safety, independence, and companionship Quinn give me as my guide are a fundamental part of my life.
Guiding Eyes has a slogan: “Raise a Puppy, Change a Life!” Here are some experiences of present raisers; it is clear that the life they change is often their own!
Sue and Fred Hurwitz
“It’s so enriching to watch the puppies grow into responsible guide dogs.”
“Our main goal in doing this is to offer something back to the community, something tangible. We want to help improve the quality of someones life. We hope to also encourage our children to develop empathy and strong moral character.
“In the short time that Jefferson has lived with us our lives have changed a lot: the kids have had to become more responsible.”
“GEB has been so rewarding and my pups have brought so much laughter, love, and happiness. They have truly changed my life.”
So if you have ever given thought to having a puppy, consider how much more powerful and significant an experience you may have if you give a home to a “Quinn in training”!
For more information about being a part of this team, you can visit the Guiding Eyes for the Blind website at www.guidingeyes.org or call them at 1-866-GEB-LABS. If you are near the New Hampshire region where Quinn makes his home with me, you can also call Regional Coordinator Bill leBlanc at: 603 801-2117.
All potential raisers are required to complete a series of pre-placement classes and a week-long sit of a pup already in the program before receiving their first puppy. The next orientation for this region is December 18. Consider being a part of this wonderful program and having a dog as marvelous as Quinn guiding you along your own journey!