Meet Fergus! He is a future service pup that Erika, a Licensed Veterinary Technician at our Bristow location, is raising until he is about 18 months old. Here is Erika’s story about how she got started with Guiding Eyes for the Bind.
Fergus is our third puppy we have raised for Guiding Eyes for the Blind. GEB is head-quartered in NY and has puppy raising regions in 12 states in the northeast. Puppy raisers get the pups when they are about 8 weeks old and keep them until they are around 18 months, when they will return to GEB for their big test to determine whether they are cut out to be a future guide dog. If they are, they begin 6 months of intensive training with highly skilled trainers that prepare them for the day when they are matched with a blind person and begin their real work.
Our family decided to raise a puppy after our beloved dog passed away and we were deciding whether or not to get another dog. I had heard about GEB from other people and decided to look them up and see what it was all about. Things really fell into place quickly and before we knew it Baldwin, our first puppy was here. Puppy raisers really just implement the puppies into their own lives and teach them basic obedience, house manners and socialization. It really is something the whole family can become involved in, and my three boys have been eager learners of the Guiding Eyes way we do things with the dogs. They even help out in class which is held weekly until the pups are 6 months old and then twice a month after that. Once the dogs earn their blue Guiding Eyes vests they can come anywhere with us. We’ve taken our dogs grocery shopping, to restaurants, and even to places like Mount Vernon and museums. It has been great to be able to take these dogs to Caring Hands with me, as they learn quickly to settle even in the presence of other dogs.
Definitely the question we get asked the most often is how we can love these dogs so much and treat them as family and then give them back. It is the hardest part of what we do. In bringing our first dog back up to New York there were many, many tears and broken hearts, but we know that these dogs were born for a greater purpose than to just be a pet. The help that they will provide someone is immeasurable and we feel truly honored to be a part of this process. I’m also thankful to be able to teach my boys to look outside of themselves and do something good for someone else. It works for our family and we really love it. For more information about Guiding Eyes, you can go to their website at www.guidingeyes.org.