2009

Guide Dog Puppy

Blind Dog Logo

Since mid-2008, my family & I have been involved with this wonderful organization. Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) provide enhanced mobility to qualified individuals through partnerships with dogs whose unique skills are developed and nurtured by volunteers and a professional staff. After six months of hands-on training, the Norris household is ready to become part of the 1400 puppy raisers in the eight western states, currently raising 875 puppies. On Saturday, April 25th, we’ll welcome our first Guide Dog puppy, Pace, into our home for the next 11 to 15 months. He is a yellow Lab, born January 25th. As Guide Dog puppy raisers, our responsibility will be to teach him basic obedience and good manners, socializing him as much as possible. In addition to all that learning, these pups are exposed to a variety of situations, places and people. He will accompany us just about everywhere. From that point, Pace will be sent to one of their campuses for formal guide work training of 4-6 months. A piece of that socialization will be accompanying me to work here at TCA. This not only will help Pace tremendously in his quest to become a Guide Dog, it coincides with Toray’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by enabling all Associates to train in disability accommodations, make them feel comfortable with a service dog and understand the need to accept a service dog as just that, and not a pet. One day, his role will be to safely guide his handler throughout the handler’s environment, including employment. And while later on in that role, Pace will have a leather harness across his back and around his chest; while he’s still a puppy, he’ll constantly wear his green, “Guide Dog Puppy” coat. He’ll be expected to rest quietly and stay where he’s been placed. It is of great assistance if Pace is left alone, rather than calling his name or exciting him. Because of using a system of behavior and reward, it is fundamentally important that all of the attention received by a guide dog come exclusively from his/her handler. This isn’t to say you can never pet Pace; just please keep it brief and always ask, so that I may ready him. And please, don’t be offended if I need to cut it short, due to any overexcitement in him. GDB is based on an 11-acre campus in San Rafael, CA (20 miles N of San Francisco) they also have a 27-acre campus in Boring, OR (25 miles E of Portland). GDB was established in 1942, and continue their dedication to quality student (the blind/visually impaired person) training services and extensive follow-up support for the graduate team. They have graduated over 10,000 teams in the past 60 years. Guide Dogs for the Blind has a wonderful website that is full of information and rewarding stories of what these highly trained animals can do to open the world to someone who is blind or visually impaired.