Posted on November 18 2015
The upcoming year, 2016, marks Freedom Guide Dogs for the Blind’s 24th year of providing highly trained guide dogs to our clients at no cost. Most of our potential guide dogs are bred by our Puppy Manager, Sharon Loori. After many years she has built a program to breed the best physically and temperamentally suited dogs for the job. But good breeding is only the beginning. From the moment the pups are whelped, they are handled and socialized. As their eyes and ears open the pups are exposed to various sights, sounds and smells. As they begin to move around they are given different substrates such as rugs, rubber mats and concrete. At every stage of their development, she exposes them to challenges suited to their age. Wobble boards, puzzle toys, tunnels and crates all help to stimulate mental and physical progress. The puppies are gradually exposed to more and more experiences including solving the puppy maze, and exploring the great outdoors. If the weather is too extreme (it is central New York) we may even bring in snow piles for them to play in.
At approximately 8 weeks of age the puppies are ready to move on to their puppy raisers. The puppy raisers will continue the puppy’s training and socialization while they live in a home environment. The puppies grow up to be friendly, smart, confident, well behaved dogs. They come back for formal training at 14-18 months of age. The breeding, early training and socialization of these future guide dogs is one of the most important reason for their success.