Puppy raisers are the most critical volunteers for Guiding Eyes for the Blind. A puppy is not born a guide dog. It is a process that depends upon the dedication and commitment of an entire team of individuals.
Guide dogs must spend their early months being properly introduced to the world in order to achieve their full potential. A puppy raiser’s home can be in an urban, rural, or suburban area and can include personal pets. Many raisers have enjoyed their experiences so much they have become “repeat raisers.”
Upon each puppy’s placement at 8 weeks old, the puppy raiser will teach basic obedience, house manners and social skills, and offer the puppy exposure to a broad range of life’s experiences appropriate for the pup’s age. This is crucial to developing a confident and adaptable dog. Puppy raisers must adhere to Guiding Eyes’ rules and standards to provide consistent training and to secure the safety of the dog. Puppies must be crate trained and always on a lead and supervised when outside. They are not to be fed people food as a “treat”, are not permitted on furniture, and are taught to be well mannered in social situations, to ride quietly in a car, and much more.
Montgomery Region raisers are required to attend Pre-Placement classes and must do some puppy sittings BEFORE getting a Guiding Eyes puppy. Puppy raisers with a puppy less than 24 weeks old are required to attend weekly classes; raisers with a puppy more than 24 weeks old are required to attend classes twice a month. Attendance at class provides the opportunity for the raiser to learn different handling techniques and for pups to interact with other puppies in training. Classes also afford the opportunity for the region support team to offer instruction in dog handling and address raiser questions. Puppies and their raiser must also participate in quarterly evaluations to assess the pup’s progress.
The puppy raiser is responsible for the costs associated with puppy maintenance (dog food, toys, etc.) and to travel to class and evaluations. Additional costs such as veterinary care, crates, etc. are covered by Guiding Eyes.