Frequently Asked Questions about Puppy Raising

  1. It must be tough to give up a puppy. How do you do it?
  2. How old is a puppy when it is placed with a volunteer puppy raiser?
  3. What breeds of dogs do you use?
  4. Where do the dogs come from?
  5. What does a puppy raiser do?
  6. Do puppy raisers train the puppies to be guide dogs?
  7. How long does a puppy stay with the puppy raiser?
  8. Do you need any previous dog training experience to be a volunteer puppy raiser?
  9. Does a Guiding Eyes puppy require any special food?
  10. Where does a puppy go if the raiser is out of town?
  11. Who pays for the puppy's expenses?
  12. Do all the puppies make it as guide dogs?
  13. What happens to puppies that don't make it as guide dogs?
  14. Do blind people pay for the dogs?
  15. How long do guide dogs work?
  16. What happens when a guide dog gets too old to work?
  17. Are there other ways to help raise a puppy if I can't make a commitment for eighteen months?

  1. It must be tough to give up a puppy. How do you do it?

    We love the puppies and miss them when they're gone, but we're proud that we helped them become what they were meant to be. The joy of helping someone who needs a guide dog helps compensate for the sorrow of giving up a puppy. How many times will you have the opportunity to help another person find new independence?
     
  2. How old is a puppy when it is placed with a volunteer puppy raiser?

    A puppy is about eight weeks old.
     
  3. What breeds of dogs do you use?[a golden retriever, Labrador retriever, and german shepherd]

    The most commonly used breed for guide dogs is the Labrador Retriever. They can be placed in every environment and with almost any person because they are such a versatile breed. German Shepherds and Golden retrievers are also used, but to a lesser extent.
     
  4. Where do the dogs come from?

    The puppies come from Guiding Eyes own breeding colony located in Patterson, New York. They are bred for health, confidence and temperament.
     
  5. What does a puppy raiser do?

    A raiser has two major jobs that lay the foundation for actual guide dog training at Guiding Eyes:

    1. Socialize the puppy to everyday experiences such as riding in the car, meeting people and other animals, walking around traffic, lying quietly at a meeting.
    2. Teach the puppy manners so it is a pleasant companion in the house and in public.

    The raisers perform an essential service; without raisers, there would be no guide dogs.

  6. Do puppy raisers train the puppies to be guide dogs?

    No, raisers do not train guide dogs. Raisers lay the foundation for future guide dog training by raising the puppy until it has matured, usually between 13 and 22 months of age. Then the puppy is sent to the Guiding Eyes for the Blind Training Center in Yorktown Heights, NY where it is evaluated. If the puppy has the traits needed for guide dog work (excellent health and a confident, serene, and friendly temperament), it begins formal training with a professional guide dog trainer. After this formal training the guide dog is matched with a blind person and the team undergoes another month of training together.
     
  7. How long does a puppy stay with the puppy raiser?

    A puppy usually remains in the puppy raiser home until it is between 13 to 22 months old. This can vary depending on the puppy's development or the training school's need for dogs.
     
  8. Do you need any previous dog training experience to be a volunteer puppy raiser?

    No, but it is helpful if you have a dog, or have had one in the past.
     
  9. Does a Guiding Eyes puppy require any special food?

    Any good quality dog food is fine if the pup is doing well on it.
     
  10. Where does a puppy go if the raiser is out of town?

    Volunteer "puppy sitters" watch pups while their raisers are away. In some cases with the Area Coordinator's approval, the puppy can accompany the raiser on the trip to enhance the puppy's socialization.
     
  11. Who pays for the puppy's expenses?

    Guiding Eyes supplies collars, ID tags, and a crate. Local veterinarians donate medical care and vaccinations. The puppy raiser is responsible for the puppy's food, toys and incidental equipment such as food bowls and grooming tools. The raiser is also responsible for purchasing any flea or tick medication.
     
  12. Do all the puppies make it as guide dogs?

    Not all dogs have the ability to take responsibility for a blind person's safety. Some are more suitable as a pet than a guide.
     
  13. What happens to puppies that don't make it as guide dogs?

    Some career change dogs are placed in other careers such as detection or therapy dogs. Or a dog released from our program may be a loved pet going back to the raiser or another adopter.
     
  14. Do blind people pay for the dogs?

    There is no charge to the blind recipient for his or her dog. Anyone age 16 and over who is legally blind is eligible to apply for a guide dog. Donations cover the $40,000 it costs to graduate a guide dog team. People who can't raise are encouraged to help in any way they can.
     
    [Yellow lab laying next to harness]
  15. How long do guide dogs work?

    The average retirement age for a guide dog is 10 years.
     
  16. What happens when a guide dog gets too old to work?

    Most Guiding Eyes graduates keep their retired dogs as a member of the family or place them with close friends. In the few situations when a retired guide is available for placement, Guiding Eyes contacts the dog's raiser. If the raiser can't be located, we have a waiting list of people who have applied to adopt a retired guide dog.
     
  17. Are there other ways to help raise a puppy if I can't make a commitment for eighteen months?

    Yes. There is always a need for puppy sitters, and sometimes for starter homes that will raise a puppy until it can be placed with a permanent puppy raiser. See the You Can Help page for more information.