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Guide Dog Puppies in the Classroom
It's never too early to learn about these great dogs
Rory at a soccer match.

My Seeing Eye dog and I visit elementary schools to teach kids about disabilities, service dogs and teamwork. During my talks with the kids, I explain three rules to keep in mind if you happen to see a guide dog with a harness on:

  • Don’t pet the dog
  • Don’t feed the dog.
  • Don’t call out the dog’s name.

The students at the school I visited recently seem nonplussed by these rules. They’d already read my children’s book Hanni and Beth: Safe & Sound, and, more importantly, one of their teachers is raising a puppy for Leader Dogs for the Blind. She brings black Labrador Retriever puppy Rory to school with her every day. At home, she and her husband and their four children all volunteer their time, money and efforts to raise puppies, and once the pups are a year old they return them to Leader Dogs headquarters in Rochester, Mich., to begin intense training to become a guide.

Rory was already at school when his puppy raiser and her youngest son met me and my Seeing Eye dog, Whitney, at the train station. The little boy in the back seat admitted he cried when he said goodbye to Mack, their first pup.

“We all did,” his mom added. “But we know it’s all for a good cause.”

Policies and practices vary in the different guide dog programs in North America. Leader Dogs allows puppy raisers to name the dog they take home. (Mack was named for Michigan’s Mackinac Island, where this family first learned about Leader Dogs.) The Seeing Eye, where I train with my dogs, opts for naming puppies at birth to help keep track of them all.

Another difference: Seeing Eye grads don’t meet the families who raise their dogs as puppies. Leader Dogs has an “open adoption” policy, which got mixed reviews from the family raising Rory now. The mom enjoys keeping up with the man in Baltimore who is partnered with Mack, but her young son lamented that attending the Leader Dog graduation meant “having to say goodbye to Mack all over again.”

At school, the puppy-raiser/teacher got a kick out of watching my Seeing Eye dog Whitney turn her head left and right, scanning the environment as she led me through the school. “They don’t do that when they’re puppies,” she observed. “It’s so fun to see the finished product!” She wondered if Whitney might like to meet Rory. Whitney would have *loved* that, but she is so new to her job that I thought it might be prudent to keep her on a, ahem, short leash.

The two dogs did catch each other’s eye when Rory went out to “empty” during a lunch break. Rory barked out a greeting, but Whitney did not respond in kind. She sat up and her ears perked, but she stayed quiet, setting an example. After all, Rory is still learning. He’s just a pup, not a professional. Not yet, at least.

Beth Finke's book, Hanni and Beth: Safe & Sound—about her bond with her Seeing Eye dog—won an ASPCA/Henry Bergh children's book award. Follow Hanni and Beth's travels on the Safe & Sound blog. bethfinke.wordpress.com
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Submitted by Sara | March 13 2012 |

We enjoy seeing Rory everyday at school and hope he is as successful as Mack! What a difference these dogs make for people. It's awesome!

Submitted by Beth Finke | March 14 2012 |

You are so right. These dogs make a *tremendous* difference in our lives, and it really is awesome.

Submitted by Sharon | March 13 2012 |

Dogs are amazing. Rory brings a smile to so many faces every day. And Beth's presentation was awesome.

Submitted by Beth Finke | March 14 2012 |

Aw, shucks.

Submitted by Denise | March 13 2012 |

It is such a delight to see Rory at school each day! Teachers and students alike really enjoyed meeting Beth and learning about her life and her leader dog, Whitney. Everyone learned so much from this experience!

Submitted by Beth Finke | March 14 2012 |

And I bet *I* am the one who learns the most -- I learn oh so much from the kids in the classes Whitney and I visit. Thank you for having us...

Submitted by Tracee | March 13 2012 |

It has been very interesting watching the process required to educate these dogs. We are grateful to the families who are willing to love them as their own for a year and then graciously let them go. Of course, we know they've only let them go physically...the bond they've formed is one that will bless the family's hearts forever.

Submitted by Jennifer | March 14 2012 |

What a great article! My only criticism is that it was too short! I would love to read more about your visits and life with Whitney and about guide dogs (raising/training/stories of how guide dogs have changed their owners' lives). Thanks!

Submitted by Beth Finke | March 14 2012 |

The good news is...you can! The Bark covers a *lot* of these issues in their mag and on their fab blog, and if you find yourself yearning for more after that, you can link to my personal "Safe & Sound" blog here, too: http://www.bethfinke.wordpress.com Thanks for reading!

Submitted by Daniel Saynuk | March 14 2012 |

That is a nice article introducing guide dogs to the public and its nice you inform children of some basic rules when around one of these dogs. I'm the person mentioned in the article who has Mack as his guide dog. As this was the first guide dog for the puppy easier family, Mack is my first guide dog and I learned a great deal while attending training.

Submitted by Beth Finke | March 14 2012 |

How cool that you found this blog, Daniel -- I know the family is proud to have Mack out there working with you.

Submitted by Cindy | March 15 2012 |

This is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done!! I feel so fortunate to have an awesome principal who warmly welcomes my puppies in training. Our family hopes to raise many more puppies in the future. Keep on writing Beth so that we can spread the awareness.

Submitted by Beth Finke | March 19 2012 |

Oh, yes, your principal is terrific, too -- so open to the idea of having these puppies-in-training there at school each day. And just think how much the kids learn from knowing Mack, and now Rory.

Submitted by Paige | March 15 2012 |

I go to the same school as Rory. I get to spend time with him 2 times a week when I get help with my school work. I like to bring Rory presents on special days. I was friends with Mack too. I knew he would be a good guide dog and know Rory will do well! Rory is always there for me.

Submitted by Beth Finke | March 19 2012 |

Paige, you are a lucky girl, having Rory there to help you with schoolwork. But then again, he's a lucky guy to have you there to help him learn to socialize! Keep up the good work --

Submitted by John | March 18 2012 |

What a great mission!!! Wonderful dogs and wonderful people.

Submitted by Stephen | April 28 2012 |

EveryDay …
A Vision Impaired Individual places their LIFE in the PAWs of their Guide Dog.

Rescue & Service & Therapy DOGs …
Are much, much more than a Wagging Tail.

A LOT of Time, Love, $$, Training, Food and Vet Bills all add up before a Service Dog can even begin “To provide Service”.

Unfortunately, the Top Breeds chosen for Service Dogs i.e. Labs, Retrievers, Germans are also Genetically Pre-Disposed to a lifetime disease, which is not deadly, but compromises not only their Health, their Quality of Life, but more importantly their ability to do what they have been Trained to DO !

This Disease is called ALLERGY.

In fact, 30-35% of all Canine suffer from Allergies. And after Flea allergy is ruled out, 85% of Allergy DOG’s suffer from the SAME Enviro Sources that We DO .. Namely Pollens, Mites & Mold Spores.

Regrettably, Allergies are very tenacious, almost Hard-Wired into the Dog’s Immune System and begin to manifest shortly AFTER all the Service Dog Training has taken place i.e. 10 mo – 3 Yr.

Unfortunately, Medicines can Only Mask Symptoms and Fool the body into “Believing” that there is “No Problem”. This unfortunately leaves the disease progression intact to continue / exacerbate unabated ..only to Re-emerge when the Med’s wear off .

A review of Allergy Treatment Options does show that Allergy Skin Testing, followed by Immuno-Allergy SHOTs are the Only Clinically proven therapy option that actually ReCaliberates the Immune system against this Immune System Mis-Wiring Action of Allergies …

BUT, as we ALL know, the Best Treatment in the world is rendered useless IF the “Patient / Dog / Pet Owner “ is” Non-Compliant” ..

And, as we all know, Allergy SHOTs are NOT very Pet or Pet Owner Friendly 

To address this Disease BEFORE it has a chance to compromise a DOG’s Health & Future AND to make a Pet “Un-Friendly” Allergy CARE Option actually “Friendly”….

Veterinary Dermatologist Dr. Kristin Holm suggests that PET Owners “ Pre-Emptively” leverage the Adaptive ability of their Puppies Immune System by sublingually building Immune System Tolerance to Environmental Pollens, Mites & Mold Spores BEFORE allergies even have a chance to become entrenched.

And to achieve this Goal, Dr. Kristin has formulated 100% Natural > Doggy GOO.

While sounding Cute & Playful, Doggy GOO’s sublingual Methodology has been Clinically Shown to be EQUAL to Immuno-Allergy SHOTs in the Neutralization of Dust Mite Allergies in Dogs.

In fact, Doggy GOO goes much further in building Immune Health in your Dog, with the addition of beneficial Yeast Ingredients and Pre & Probiotics…

AND most importantly…
Doggy GOO builds Immune System Tolerance to 10 Pollens, 2 Mites & 3 Mold Allergy Sources.

To keep your Service Dog focused on it’s Trained Mission in Life …
Don’t let the Progression of Allergy even Begin !

Pre-Emptively place your Best Friend on the Path to a Lifetime of Immune Health & Tolerance to Enviro Allergy Sources with Doggy GOO.

Sublingual Doggy GOO > It even Tastes like a Treat !

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