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November 30, 2011

TT with Linky: Service Animals ~ Guide Dogs for the Blind Field Trip

On this soon to be Thankful Thursday, I'm thankful for the service animals that help us in our world.  Today I'm not talking about our beautiful bovines, but these adorable, intelligent pups that have a HUGE responsibility to tend to.

But first, I can safely say, planning a field trip the Monday following the Thanksgiving holiday is a win-win situation.  The kids get to roll gently back into the school routine after a few days off and we were the only field trip/tour group at Guide Dogs for the Blind....we had the place to ourselves!















Our tour began in a classroom type setting with our guide, Alex, who immediately took a liking to Paige because she reminded him of his grand daughter.  She got a little special treatment that morning.


In the classroom presentation we learned about the history of Guide Dogs for the Blind and how every guide dog trained in this facility is born on the campus.  The pups stay with their mothers for about a month then they're moved to the 'nursury' for another month.  Once a puppy reaches two months old they are delivered to  host families, mostly 4H families who live within the eight western states until they reach 14 months old.  During their time with the host family, they are handled with love and just get to be puppies.

At 14 months they are picked up by one of the many Guide Dogs for the Blind vans and brought back to the Guide Dogs campus in San Rafael, CA where they begin their three month training to become a guide dog.
Only half of the dogs that go through the training course graduate as a guide dog. 

There is currently a very long wait list to adopt the 'career change' dogs that don't graduate to Guide Dog status.

The guide dog campus has dorms large enough to house 28 blind people who come from all over the U.S. and Canada for their own three week training course before going home with a guide dog of their own.  All costs are paid for by Guide Dogs for the Blind.

The 2011 operating costs for Guide Dogs for the Blind were, or will be $36 million dollars....all donated money.  Amazing, right?!

In the photo below we were lucky enough to see a blind person on his first day of guide dog ownership training.  The trainer, in the red shirt, is holding a guide dog harness and pretending to be a guide dog and the trainee is learning how it feels to be guided by him.























This guide dog trainee walked right through our group without becoming distracted at all....good boy!






















Alex, shows us some new born pups with their mother on the web cam.

And then we had the pleasure to meet a few pups.  SO cute.  No one is allowed to pet, or touch them other than their handlers. 























We all wanted to snuggle with these adorable pups....

In the wash room, something special happened.






















This guide dog, who was being blown dry after a bath was ready to come out.....






















and since he wasn't in his training harness, we were allowed to pet him....he loved it and so did we.













Pretty soon, it was time to end the tour.













Time to say bye.....

But not before we got one more unexpected puppy fix out in the parking lot.

To learn more about, volunteer, donate or find out how to get put on the 'career change' adoption wait list go to: 






Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to leave a comment. I love to hear from you! Have a fantastic day!

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