Janet Cody, Old Lyme, a volunteer puppy raiser for Guiding Eyes for the Blind, is celebrating her puppy’s graduation as a full-fledged guide dog. Garth, a Black Labrador, became a member of Janet’s household at 8 weeks of age and is now fully trained to be part of a Guiding Eyes team.
As the primary raiser of Garth, Janet says, “I have had so much fun with this volunteer program. All the people in class as well as the region coordinators and managers are so positive and friendly. I look forward to class each week.”
The Guiding Eyes Puppy Raising Program is comprised of more than 400 puppy raisers from Maine to North Carolina. As Lee Nordin, Director, Guiding Eyes’ Canine Development, says, “These caring, dedicated people are the “heart and soul” of the Guiding Eyes program. Puppy raisers nurture the young pups and familiarize them with everyday situations.” They establish the loving human bond that is the foundation for the puppies’ future role in a guide dog team. Raisers are provided the necessary training and support from a volunteer Region Coordinator. After approximately a year and a half, puppy raisers return the dogs to Guiding Eyes for evaluation. Dogs that pass their tests begin formal training with Guiding Eyes guide dog instructors. After four to six months of rigorous training, the dogs are fully prepared to assist their future blind partner in traveling safely and more confidently.
Living in Janet’s home, Garth was provided with many different opportunities for socialization, including visits to shopping malls, train stations and restaurants.
It costs approximately $45,000 to breed, raise and train a Guiding Eyes dog, but there is no cost to the graduate. Funded solely by contributions from individuals, corporations, foundations and organizations, Guiding Eyes is able to cover all costs. For more information on raising a Guiding Eyes puppy, contact Guiding Eyes for the Blind at 1.866.GEB.LABS or visit their website at www.volunteer.guidingeyes.org.