Raising Guide Dogs
When I was 18 I became certified to raise puppies for Guiding Eyes for the Blind. The job of a puppy raiser is to take a puppy at 8 weeks of age and care for it for 12-15 months. We teach them house manners, give them proper exposure to as many different environments as possible, take them to class when they can sit long enough, and most importantly give them a lot of love. By raising a puppy, we are able to give the gift of love and eyesight to somebody who really needs assistance of a guiding eye dog. I chose to be a puppy raiser becasue I love to help people and I love puppies. Through the 2 puppies I have raised, I have learned and grown in many ways, including becoming more organized and more assertive.
Alexa was the first puppy I raised for Guiding Eyes. Alexa was nothing but a little ball of energy. I worked with her while living with her in a small single dorm room during my sophomore year of college. It was no easy task caring for her, and a huge responsibily that is impossible to prepare for. Bringing a puppy into your life completely takes it over.
Alexa taught me the real meaning of hard work and dedicatiion. As a student, I was interested in hanging out with my friends and watching TV in my spare time. With Alexa I had to wake up early to take her on a walk, pay attention to her while I took her almost everywhere I went, and organize my entire schedule to fit her. At many times I had to chose her over friends or fun activites. At many times I asked myself, as I was sitting on my floor with a pile of study material and a restless yellow labrador puppy, what have I gotten myself into?
At the end of our time together, Alexa taught me how to let go of something that I had put my whole heart and mind into. She never ended up becoming a guide dog (only around 50% do), but instead she was accepted into a explosives detection program through MSA security. She is now working as a bomb sniffing dog at the United Nations in New York City.
Meeting with Alexa, the puppy I raised, at her workplace, the United Nations, NYC.
Wilson is the second puppy I am raising for Guiding Eyes. He is still in the puppy program, learning basic obedience, socialization and house manners until he is ready for his next steps. Wilson is a much different puppy than Alexa, more laid back and goofy. Wilson's brother Wrangler is the puppy being raised on the Today Show, making Wilson famous by association!
Wilson, a puppy I raised, enjoying the day at a water fountain in Ithaca.
Wilson and I at Ithaca College.