Raising and all that comes with it... Carol
As I write this
my seven month old German Shepherd is lying quietly at me feet. She
is awake and alert and would probably much rather be playing with
me, but instead she is patiently doing what I have told her to do.
I have worked hard to achieve that good behavior from her and there
is more work to be done. My dream is that one day she will be the
willing and eager eyes of some blind individual. I am a Seeing Eye
I will not romanticize puppy raising It has had its joy and its
trials, its pleasure and its pain. The same puppy that was
so well behaved as I wrote my first paragraph
is continually demanding my attention and correction as I try to write this
one. She does not want to be quiet; she does not want to lie
down; and she does not
want to obey me. But I must be calm and patient and consistent in giving praise
and correction. And that is even harder than it sounds.
My job as a puppy raiser is, in short, to prepare a puppy for life as a Seeing
Eye dog. I socialize my puppies; teach them basic commands; and expose them
to the many sights, sounds, and smells that they might experience as a working
They live with me from when they seven weeks old, until they return for training
at about eighteen moths old. Those months are filled with hours of hard work.
Puppies are not born housebroken. They jump; they bark; they chew on things
they should not chew on. And they do not always listen when you tell them no.
really a good thing that puppies are so cute.
Lest I seem too negative, I must say that the months spent raising
a puppy are also filled with hours of pleasure. I love my puppies
dearly. How could I not,
when they follow me around the house and greet me ecstatically when I come
home. My puppies have been good company for long walks of quiet
times together. They
relish my attention when I play with them or groom them. They thrill me and
make me proud when they perform the commands I have patiently
taught them. They look
to me for care and affection. But each puppy is more than a companion – they
are part of a goal.
If I were
merely a dog lover, I would not choose to be a puppy raiser. Puppy raisers
have to give up the dogs they love. I
have done it five times so far,
and it is not easy. My passion is for the Seeing Eye and the work that they
do. Every year hundreds of blind people are given independence
and dignity through
Seeing Eye dogs. All the hard work I do with my puppies is done with the goal
of raising a dog that may some day make a difference in the life of a blind