Saturday, May 15, 2010

Puppy to arrive at Mrs. V's house

At the end of May, my family will be picking up an 8-week-old, male, yellow, Labrador Retriever in the Pilot Dog program in Columbus. My 17-year-old son signed on to be a puppy raiser for a school community service project. The dog will eventually, at 1 year or 14 months old, be turned over to Pilot Dogs so the dog can get more formal training to become a guide dog for the blind.
It has been two years since we last had a dog in the house, so the family is very excited about hearing the patter of little paws in the house again. This is a huge responsibility for my son. He needs to take the puppy to an obedience course when the puppy is 4 to 5 months old. The puppy also needs to socialize with animals, people and be exposed to traffic conditions and other environments.

Once the dog is returned to Pilot Dogs, it begins formal training with professional trainers/instructors. This training typically lasts about five months. As the dogs advance, the training schedules are changed so that the dogs begin training in the streets of Columbus where they learn how to navigate buses, revolving doors, escalators, elevators, and all other conditions the blind may encounter once returned home with their pilot dogs.

The blind student and their dog train together for four weeks and learn to navigate their way through the largest department stores, on and off buses, and across the busiest thoroughfares by themselves.

My son will receive a picture of the dog and his new owner when the dog has graduated from the program. We know that letting go of our new puppy within a year will be very hard, but we are expecting a great experience and many stories to tell. Will keep you updated on the puppy’s progress and any advice on how to raise a puppy is welcome.

Meanwhile, check out our link (just click on the picture) to all the wonderful books we have in our collection regarding guide dogs. I recommend reading Gertrude Chandler Warners’ fiction book “The Guide Dog Mystery”; Stephanie Calmenson’s picture book “May I pet your dog?: the how-to guide for kids meeting dogs (and dogs meeting kids)”; and Glenna Lang’s picture book “Looking Out for Sarah.”

Checking Out,
Mrs. V

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