by DEB COX
For the Sequim Gazette
As many in our community are aware, we have a local club raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind in the Sequim-Port Angeles area. Our club, Puppy Pilots, has been in the community since 2007 and has raised 23 puppies.
The raiser has the pup in their home from about nine weeks of age to about 15 months old, at which time they return to the Guide Dogs for the Blind training campus in Boring, Ore., for formal training. Each raiser hopes that their pup makes it as a guide, but in reality, not all puppies are cut out to be a guide dog.
Desiree arrived at the Cox home in December 2011. She was a beautiful yellow lab puppy and loved getting out with me in all my day-to-day activities in the area. Desiree was in our home for a year before returning to the training campus in December 2012.
She progressed well through her training and was placed in a class with a visually impaired partner. Unfortunately, the match was not quite right and she was returned to a “class ready” status.
However, soon afterwards the training staff realized she had several outstanding qualities that would qualify her as a candidate for the K-9 Buddy Program.
This unique program was started by Guide Dogs for the Blind in 2006. The goal of the program is to match calm, loving and easy handling dogs with visually impaired children as a pet.
The dogs are placed with the family free of charge and allows the child to learn to take care of the dog, feed, groom, play with and, most importantly, to trust the dog.
This dog and child bond is a confidence builder for the visually impaired child and prepares the child for receiving their first guide dog.
On average, 17 K-9 Buddies are placed in homes each year in the nine western states where our puppy raisers are located.
Desiree was matched with a blind 14-year-old young man, named Matthew, and is living a good life in California. She has found her perfect home and buddy to love, while teaching him how to live with and trust in her. Desiree has found her calling and we couldn’t be happier knowing she is being loved in return while helping young Matthew to prepare to receive a guide dog at some future date.
An interesting side note: Desiree’s littermate Darlo also was placed as a K-9 Buddy with a child, named Matt, in California. Those gentle and loving characteristics must have been in their genes!
For more information about raising a guide dog puppy, visit www.puppypilots.org.