Guiding Eyes for the Blind Now Accepting New Puppy Raisers in Dutchess County - Daily Hudson Valley News

Guiding Eyes for the Blind Now Accepting New Puppy Raisers in Dutchess County

Jul 11th, 2013 | By | Category: Featured Articles

Guiding Eyes for the Blind, known around the globe as one of the foremost guide dog schools, is inviting Dutchess and Putnam County residents to open their homes and hearts in a rare volunteer opportunity to raise a future guide dog puppy. The nonprofit has announced its next orientation series, which begins on July 16, for those interested in becoming puppy raisers.

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.

The puppy raiser orientation series will be held on July 16, 30 and August 13 at the Guiding Eyes Canine Development Center in Patterson, NY. Prospective volunteers will have the opportunity to learn more about the program and meet some very special pups. RSVPs are required and potential raisers must attend all three classes to become a raiser.

“Without the extraordinary dedication of our puppy raisers, we would simply be unable to provide guide dogs to the blind and visually impaired,” said Maria Dunne, regional manager of Guiding Eyes’ puppy raising program. Puppy raising classes are held on Wednesday evenings at the Canine Development Center.

Those unable to attend the orientation series, but still interested in raising a future guide dog, are invited to an open house for the Dutchess and Ulster County puppy raising regions on Monday, July 22, 2013 from 6:00-7:30 pm at the Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church, 90 Route 32 South in New Paltz. Graduate Alison Dolan, a former C.I.A. intelligence officer and the first certified blind therapeutic riding instructor in the United States, will share her experiences with guide dog Winnie and speak about how the nonprofit transformed her life.

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.

“Our puppies share a very important, very specific purpose,” explained Diana Traegler, a four-time puppy raiser for Guiding Eyes. “As difficult as it is to give them up, when you attend a graduation you witness something incredible – your puppy as the eyes of another human being.”

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.

The Guiding Eyes Canine Development Center is located at 361 Route 164 in Patterson, NY. To RSVP for the orientation series, open house, or to learn more about the Dutchess County puppy raising region, contact Maria Dunne at (845) 230-6436 or mdunne@guidingeyes.org.

For additional information on Guiding Eyes’ Puppy Raising Program, call 1-866-GEB-LABS or visit www.guidingeyes.org/volunteer/puppy-raising/.

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