Monday, April 18, 2011

The Application Process

Before applying to raise a puppy, we had to accept the fact that the puppy will not be "ours", and that we will be raising him or her with goal of creating a fantastic guide dog and companion for a person who is blind. Yes, that means we will have to return the puppy to The Seeing Eye at the age of about 14 months, when it is ready to enter official guide dog training.

Working inside the organization has provided myself and Sarah a unique opportunity to connect to the mission. We've puppy-sat for puppies that have now gone through training and our out working, guiding their new owners through daily life. That feeling - watching that transformation - is quite powerful.

The application process is detailed, and describes what to expect, but also allows the organization to determine if you are really ready to be a puppy raiser. There are lots of questions to consider, and you provide references (which are checked!) just like you would on a job application. You are expected to attend puppy club meetings to get a feel for the process - my wife has attended meetings at the Sussex County club, and I have attended a meeting with the on-campus puppy raiser club here at The Seeing Eye.

The clubs provide additional socialization for the puppies, but also are a major educational tool to help ensure we're producing calm, confident dogs that will make great guides. Club leaders arrange outings to public places like sports games, malls, parades and other situations that help the puppies learn, experience and grow. The club environment also allows raisers to work with different puppies, exposing the puppies to new handlers.

Once references are checked and you are accepted into the program, the wait begins. Raising a puppy for The Seeing Eye is an honor and a priveledge, and as such, the list of families waiting for a puppy to raise is long. Wait times can vary depending on breeding cycles and other factors, but expect at least four months, with specific breed requests taking much longer.

No comments:

Post a Comment