High school students have taken up the challenge to train future Labrador guide dogs.
Six Labrador Retriever puppies traveled from north of San Francisco to Waco, Texas.
The pups were dropped off by Guide Dogs for the Blind Inc. community field representative Sandi Alsworth. The 8-week-old pups are set to live with Robinson High School students for an FFA-supervised agriculture experience for the upcoming year.
For the next 15 months, the students will be responsible for house-training and socializing the pups – including training them not to respond to approaching animals or people when out in public.
Guide Dogs for the Blind is an organization that breeds, trains, and gives guide dogs to visually impaired people for free. They send out about 1,400 puppies each year for socialization training and only about 325 graduate to be guide dogs.
The dogs who don’t become guide dogs can go into other services, such as therapy, hearing, or companion dogs. They also have the chance to return to the original trainer to be their pets, Alsworth said.
During the first month, the students will be house-training the puppies by keeping them in crates at home and at school. As the puppies grow older, they will be taken to public places, such as restaurants or stores.
The veterinarian bills are paid by Guide Dogs for the Blind, but the students’ families will provide food, toys, and crates, Alsworth said.
One student, Desiree Mejia, will train yellow Labrador, Nugget. She said she joined the project because she always wanted to learn how to train dogs and saw the program as an opportunity.
Faith Johnson will be caring for Malta, one of the black Labrador puppies. She said this will be her first FFA project andshe looks forward to the benefit her work that will provide for the blind community.
“It’s going to be sad to see her go, but it’ll be worth it,” Johnson said.
Would you like to be part of the program? Check Guide Dogs for the Blind‘s website for more info.