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The Newsroom: Fact Sheet : Guiding Eyes for the Blind

Guiding Eyes for the Blind

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Q. What jobs do thesedogs do? Are they 'cross-trained'?
A. Our dogs are bred and trained to become Guiding Eyes dogs for blind and visually impaired people. We provide three highly personalized training choices. Our standard program is a twenty-six day Residential Training Program at our Training Center campus. Our innovative Special Needs Program provides guide dogs to people with disabilities in addition to blindness, such as hearing loss or orthopedic problems. A Home Training Program is available for those who are unable to come to our campus to participate in our Residential Training Program.

3 BreedsQ. What breeds/size/types of dogs do you use? Are they different for each specialty?
A. Guiding Eyes provides specially bred Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers

Q. What is the final disposition of the dog, after it is retired? (Adoption/euthanasia?)
A. Upon retirement a guide dog is first offered to the graduate with which it was placed, then to their puppy raiser and finally to a long list of hopeful public adoption candidates. We NEVER euthanize our retired dogs.

Those adult dogs which are released from our guide dog program during the raising or training process can also go on to become detection dogs, therapy dogs and of course, loving companions.

PuppyQ. If you get the dogs as puppies, are they in a foster program first for socialization?
A. The process of producing exceptional guide dogs begins at our Breeding Center in Patterson, New York. Here at our Whelping Kennel facility all future guide dogs are born. Our highly skilled staff provide superior pre and post natal care to our Breeding Stock who will give birth to their puppies here.

During the first 9 weeks of a puppy's life they are constantly socialized by our trained volunteers who help to foster the bond between puppies and their human companions. The puppies are exposed to different environments and experiences helpful to their intellectual and emotional development. Utilizing a room designed especially for socialization, a puppy and its littermates are encouraged to explore a variety of toys, surfaces and objects. The socializers are also trained in puppy massage techniques which help to improve the general health and well being of the puppies. The puppies are massaged individually, helping them to become familiar with being handled and enhancing their development.

Q. If you get the dogs as pups, do you need people to volunteer as 'foster parents'?
A. Guiding Eyes depends on volunteer Puppy Raisers to provide a safe, caring environment for our puppies for their first 18 months. During this time, Puppy Raisers begin preparing these special dogs for their future as a guide dog by following a well-defined program designed to support and realize their potential. Puppy Raisers are provided support through their respective Puppy Raising Regions located along the eastern seaboard and Ohio.

Guiding Eyes has more than 500 volunteer Puppy Raisers from Maine to North Carolina. These caring, dedicated people are the heart and soul of the Guiding Eyes program, who work to help the pups mature and familiarize them with everyday situations, and establish the loving human bond that is the foundation for their future role as part of a guide dog team.

After a year and a half, the dogs are returned to Guiding Eyes for evaluation. Those dogs that pass their tests begin formal training with our guide dog instructors. After four to six months of formal guide dog training, the dogs have learned to assist their blind partner in safe travel.

Guiding Eyes accepts applications year round from people interested in becoming Puppy Raisers.

Q. How many years has your dog program been in operation (probably different for each program)?
A. Since 1954, Guiding Eyes for the Blind has provided Guiding Eyes dogs free of charge to men and women of all ages and from all walks of life. Located in Yorktown Heights, New York (35 miles north of New York City), we are recognized as one of the foremost guide dog training schools in the world.

Q. Do you have a web site, that the public can access, for more information about this program?
A. For more information about our programs please visit our website: www.guidingeyes.org

Q. Is there anything the public can do to help your mission?
A. We encourage people to assist our organization in a variety of ways:
- Donations (it costs over $30,000 to raise a Guiding Eyes dog)
- Volunteers
- Puppy Raisers
- Brood/Stud Fosters

And please follow Guide Dog Etiquette:
When You Meet a Person with a Guide Dog (or guide dog in training)...
- Please do not pet, distract or otherwise disturb as service dog while it
is working.
- Always ask permission to pet a service dog even when it is not working.
- Never offer food or any other treats to a working dog. This may interfere
with their ability to work.
- If you wish to assist a person with a guide dog, first ask if you can be
of any help. If your assistance is accepted, then offer your left elbow.
Do not grab the guide dog, the leash, harness of the person's arm. Doing so
may place them in danger.

Q. (Specific to puppy program) Are the puppies that are not suitable for Guide Dogs placed for adoption? Is there a place the public can contact if they are interested in adopting one of those puppies?
A. We offer for public adoption, our 8-9 week old puppies who have been puppy tested and indicate that they do not have the potential to become guide dogs. Their personality trait profiles reflect that they may be pups that seek human support when under the pressure of work. However, they make excellent pets! They are healthy, well-bred, affectionate dogs that have been handled and socialized from birth by our staff members and volunteers.

We also offer for public adoption young adult dogs and retired guide dogs.

For more information you can contact 1 866 GEB LABS or breedingcenter@guidingeyes.org.

Jeanette I. Davias

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