For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Barlak, (973)775-8350
November 3, 2016
The Seeing Eye Seeks Volunteer Puppy Raisers
Morristown, N.J.- The Seeing Eye is seeking volunteers who are interested in raising a puppy that will one day be trained to guide a person who is blind. Puppy raisers are foster families of all types, both large and small, with and without pets. A puppy raiser family is responsible for providing a loving and nurturing home environment for approximately one year. The Seeing Eye puppy could be a Labrador retriever, golden retriever, lab/golden cross or a German shepherd. During that time, the raiser is responsible for teaching basic obedience, house manners, bringing the puppy to Seeing Eye puppy club meetings and socialization trips in their area.
“Raising a Seeing Eye® puppy is a great way for children to experience the value of giving back to the community, or a project for people who are retired and looking to contribute their time to a good cause,” said Jill Jaycox, the Linda Feinne-Roth Manager of Puppy Development at The Seeing Eye. “It’s never easy to give back a puppy that you have raised and lived with for a year, but our volunteers always agree that watching the transformation from puppy to Seeing Eye dog makes the journey worth it.”
The Seeing Eye has puppy clubs divided by region who meet regularly and provide the puppy raisers with training tips, advice and share puppy sitting responsibilities when a family has plans that prevent them from keeping their puppy for a short period of time, such as a vacation. Puppies are delivered by a Seeing Eye Puppy Coordinator around 7 weeks of age and picked up from the family around 13- 15 months of age. The Seeing Eye Puppy Coordinator is always a phone call or email away, night and day, to answer questions or provide assistance.
“We need homes and families of all shapes and sizes for our puppies because fully trained Seeing Eye dogs are placed in similarly diverse families and living situations with people who are blind and visually impaired,” explained Jaycox. “We don’t require applicants to have experience with dog training or raising puppies because we provide all the necessary support to the family and teach them everything they need to know.”
Puppy raisers generally must live within New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania with some exceptions. All veterinary expenses are covered by The Seeing Eye and a stipend is provided to cover the cost of dog food. If a Seeing Eye puppy does not graduate from the program, the family who raised the puppy is offered the first option to adopt the puppy they raised. For more information about puppy raising and a listing of the counties where The Seeing Eye will place puppies, visit seeingeye.org/raise. Interested volunteers should contact the area coordinator for their county as listed on the web site.
Established in 1929, The Seeing Eye provides specially bred and trained dogs to guide people who are blind. Seeing Eye dog users experience greatly enhanced mobility and independence, allowing them to retain their active lifestyles despite blindness. The Seeing Eye is a 501(c)3 non-profit supported by contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations, bequests, and other planned gifts.
The Seeing Eye is a trademarked name and can only be used to describe the dogs bred and trained at the school’s facilities in Morristown, N.J. If you would like more information on The Seeing Eye, please visit the website at www.SeeingEye.org, call (973) 539-4425, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By: Skyler Howard (2014 GDB Puppy Raising Scholarship Recipient for Outstanding Essay)
Three freshman girls were sobbing uncontrollably in the school bathroom. “Why would he do it?” cried one. “How could this have happened?” whispered another. The news spread like wildfire throughout the school. By the end of the day, everyone had heard what happened: a freshman boy had killed himself.
The next morning, the hallways were silent. Words were either whispered or sobbed silently into a friend's shoulder. The first bell rang and the noise was so loud it hit the walls and shattered into a million pieces. I made my way to English class with Triumph, the guide dog puppy I was raising, who was moving slowly by my side. The teacher was kind and decided not to give us a lecture. The class began to work on other homework or draw silently. Ten minutes into the period, three seniors drifted into the room and made a beeline toward Triumph. The quietly greeted me and Triumph, and then sat down on the floor with him. They stroked his paws and his head as he stared up at them with his large, understanding eyes.
“I wish I could stay here all day,” said one of the girls. The others agreed.
In spite of the tragedy of the situation, I couldn't help but smiling a bit. When I looked at Triumph and the three seniors gathered around him, I could see the comfort he was giving to my classmates. Petting Triumph and sitting with him was making them hurt a little less. I could see that in their small smalls and hear that in their hushed voices directed toward the dog.
While raising a guide dog puppy, I have learned that it's impossible for a puppy to influence just one person. Instead, a guide dog puppy influences a whole community. Triumph came to school with me every day and throughout the year he spent with me, I noticed just how much of an impact he made on my fellow students.
In my Japanese class, Triumph was the star of multiple skits. In my art and economics classes, he liked to sleep on the rug right in front of the door so that students were forced to stop and pet him when they walked into the classroom. In the hallways, many of my friends began to greet Triumph before even saying hi to me.
On the last day I had Triumph at school, my Japanese class had a party for me. We went out onto the tennis courts and everyone sat in a circle. Triumph slowly made his way from person to person, wagging his tail and calmly sniffing the face of each student. When class was over, everyone stood in two parallel lines and touched hands with the person across from them, forming a human tunnel for Triumph. The students cheered him through, and when he reached the middle he stopped and stretched. Butt in the air and tail wagging, he looked up at all the smiling faces above him. Everyone was so happy.
I began raising guide dog puppies because I have always loved dogs, but that is not why I continue to do it. Now I raise puppies because they have the ability to teach me so many things. Triumph taught me that sometimes a wagging tail is more comfort than another human voice, that people you barely know will stop and ask about your little dog in the green vest, and that an entire community can come together around a single dog.
Triumph also helped me discover what I want to do in my future. I plan to study animal behavior in college, and when I graduate I want to work at an animal shelter or train service dogs. Because of my experience raising guide dog puppies, I know that continuing to work with animals as an adult is what I want to do. Seeing the impact that a dog can have on a person's life and on a community is truly amazing, and I know that I want to continue experiencing this miracle.