Meet Otter, a Golden Retriever pup. He is on his way to becoming a guide dog for the blind.
Otter’s story began at the Seeing Eye’s 300 acre breeding farm in Chester, New Jersey, where he spent yappy happy days playing with his brothers and sisters.
Then he was placed with a puppy raiser for 14 to 18 months where he learned love, trust, and basic obedience.
Next, Otter returned to Seeing Eye headquarters in Morristown, New Jersey, where he began his formal training with a professional instructor, and was introduced to the guide dog harness which will be his working uniform.
Otter is learning to move around objects, avoid barriers, and tackle curbs and stairs. He will go on trains, mall escalators, into restaurants, travel and navigate New York City, and Newark’s Liberty Airport. When he passes his exam, where his instructor is blind-folded, Otter will meet his new owner who will come to Morristown, New Jersey, for 4 weeks of intensive training. Afterwards, his new owner will graduate and, thanks to Otter, will have acquired a new harness on freedom.
Seeing Eye Facts:
. Most guide dogs are German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Golden/Lab mixes, and an occasional standard poodle.
. A guide dog must not become easily distracted by loud noises or unfamiliar smells and signs. It must be calm and friendly, even if someone steps on its tail.
. A guide dog must be able to make safe decisions. For example, if his owner gives a forward command, the dog will deliberately disobey if there is any kind of danger ahead.
. Training a guide dog costs The Seeing Eye $65,000 per dog. Yet, The Seeing Eye charges $150 for a person’s first guide dog and $50 for subsequent dogs. If the new owner doesn’t have $150, he or she can pay it off in increments that he or she can afford.
. When the dog becomes too old to be a guide dog, it will retire and its owner can keep it as a pet and get a new guide dog. If the owner cannot keep it, The Seeing Eye will find an adoptive family.
The Seeing Eye is supported solely by donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations. For more information on this organization, visit http://www.SeeingEye.org.