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Dog Guide Users of New Hampshire

Dog Guide Users of New Hampshire

Annual Meeting, april 20, 2019

Don’t miss our next annual meeting on Saturday, April 20, 2019 at the Red Blazer opens in a new window Restaurant in Concord, NH from 1:00 PM to 3:30PM. Our speaker will be Jackie Dion, coordinator of Visual Impairment Services Team (VIST) at the Veterans Hospital in Manchester, NH. She will speak on how the VIST program works and helps blind and visually-impaired veterans. Jackie is also the go-to person concerning service dogs at the hospital. Accompanying her will be a veteran with a dog guide, who will speak about his experiences as a veteran and a dog guide user. Please join us for this informative meeting.

October General Meeting Summary

The October meeting was Puppy Raiser Appreciation Day. Without puppy raisers we wouldn’t have guide and service dogs. We had a good attendance of puppy raisers. Thank you to all!

Bill LeBlanc, coordinator and puppy trainer for Guiding Eyes for the Blind, explained the ins and outs of raising a puppy. He also talked about the commitment puppy raisers make and some of the training that takes place.

Scott Mace, coordinator and puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) told us how CCI puppies are raised to become service dogs, and the commitment each puppy raiser makes.

July General Meeting Summary

In case you missed our July meeting, Rick Blair, a well-seasoned traveler and member of our group, spoke about domestic and international travel with a guide dog. He gave excellent tips on how to navigate with your guide dog. He also gave 5 steps for reducing travel stress:

  1. Planning and Preparation
  2. Packing
  3. Departure
  4. Security and Landing
  5. Arrival

We also heard from Roberta Chatis, Dog Health News Blog from Salem, MA. She talked about keeping our dogs healthy in hot weather. We sure needed that advice with the hot summer we had.

Janet Akins Award

In tribute to one of DGUNH’s founding members, this award was created to honor Janet Akins’ contribution and memory. This year we were pleased to give this coveted honor to one of our founding members, Joanie Nelson. Joanie has contributed so much to the DGUNH: she created our logo, built and maintained our initial website, and served as vice-president and treasurer for many years. Joanie has worked hard to make the DGUNH a valuable resource for both users and puppy raisers. Her consistent efforts helped expand the reach of this beneficial support/social group. We were so happy to be able to give this special award to Joanie, such a deserving, long-term member.

Mollie's Story

Mollie, a black lab, sitting patiently in harness Hi! My name is Mollie and I am a Seeing Eye® dog.

I was born at the breeding facilities of the Seeing Eye in NJ on November 1, 2008. I guess that makes me a Jersey girl. There were 2 girls and 6 boys in our litter. Both girls were black while all the boys were tan. As is the tradition at the Seeing Eye, all puppies in a litter are named with the same first letter. As you can guess, our letter was “M.” There was Mitch, Milo, Mo and of course me, Mollie, to name a few.

I spent the first 7 weeks of my life at the breeding facility with my mom and siblings, although during the last week we spent more and more time apart. Then one day, I found myself riding in the back seat of a car, sitting on the lap of a 22 year old girl while her parents drove us to my new home. First stop, the extremely large fenced back yard, which I immediately Christened with my digested breakfast.

This family, known as puppy raisers, provided me with a home for the next 16 months. Initially, I learned basic manners, like not going on the furniture, coming when called, remaining calm and of course, the all-important toilet training. As I grew older, I was introduced to public situations, like crowds, busses, stores, learning to ignore people and other dogs, etc.

Every two weeks we would get together with other puppy raiser families and their dogs to work with seeing Eye staff to check on our progress, learn puppy raising skills and to discuss how things were going. I loved to see the other dogs. Sadly, some dogs were removed from the program due to health or temperament issues.

At age 18 months, I returned to the Seeing Eye to complete my training. It was sad to leave my puppy raising family behind, but I quickly bonded with my new trainer named Chris. He taught me all the skills I would need to be a Seeing Eye dog. After four months of intensive guide dog training, I passed my exam and was paired with Rick in august 2010. Sadly, four of my siblings never made the cut. For the next four weeks, Rick and I trained together. Rick was as new at being a guide dog owner as I was to being a guide dog. Initially, we made lots of mistakes together (Rick more than me, I’m sure) but eventually, we both graduated and it was time to fly off to my new home. Although this was my first time on a plane, the practice seats at my school prepared me and I knew just what to do when we got on the plane. I just curled up under the seat in front of Rick. I love to fly. Rick and I have been to 28 states and four countries in our short time together. Later this year, Rick and I will travel to Texas, upping my total to 29.

Mollie playing Frisbee with 2 other dogsYou may think that I have a rough life since you only see me when I’m working. But when I get home and the harness comes off, I get to act like a normal dog. I have to canine companions at home, a 15 year old Welsh Pembroke Corgi, and a 5 year old English Springer Spaniel. Besides playing tug-or-war with a rope toy, our favorite game to play is to see who can deposit the most amount of fur on the floors between vacuuming.

I only have one pet peeve (get it, PET peeve?) which is when people talk to me or try to pet me when I am working. You would think it was obvious; when my harness is on, I am working. Even if I am sitting still, waiting for my next command from Rick, if my harness is on, I am working. I know that I am hard to ignore, with my saucer like molten chocolate eyes and my coffee table clearing tail wag, but you’re a lot smarter than I am, and if I can be trained to ignore you, then you should be able to ignore me. After all, my job is to keep Rick safe and any interference by you can compromise that.

Mollie sleeping, her head on top of a  Springer Spaniel puppy, also sleepingWell, it’s time for me to go back to work, or maybe I'll take a nap, so like Tigger says, TTFN, Ta Ta For Now!

Do’s and Don’ts of Dog Guide Etiquette