DOG GUIDE USERS OF NH

The New Hampshire's
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The Dog Guide Users of New Hampshire is a totally voluntary support group that promotes the use of Service Dogs for the disabled through peer support, advocacy, education, and public awareness. The Dog Guide Users of New Hampshire also embraces all individuals who are interested in the care, handling, and/or raising of Guide, Hearing and Service Dogs for independent living

THE SERVICE DOG EXPERIENCE - Stories by Our Members, and Archives

What Better Reason"

A number of months ago I made the decision to stop raising puppies for at least a year. Having raised seven guide dog puppies, one immediately following another, I felt I needed a break from the 4/7 responsibility of training and caring for a young dog. I had decided that once I sent my puppy-in-training, Olympic, back to Guide Dogs for the Blind, I would spend the following twelve months enjoying my two pet dogs and occasionally volunteering as a puppy sitter. I quickly discovered, however, that life without a puppy in the house was not quite the same.

Attending the club meetings was not quite the same. Going grocery shopping was not quite the same. In fact, going anywhere was not quite the same. I missed gaving those four little feet constantly walking beside my own. I missed the playfulness of a very young puppy. I missed watching a puppy discover the world, and most importantly I missed teaching a puppy about the very important job it has.

After six months sans puppy, I am now raising puppy-in-training number eight. A pretty yellow lab named Chalet. Almost everyone I know is excited that I am raising a puppy again as people truly enjoy petting the pups and watching them grow and change during the year. Many individuals have asked what made me decide to raise another puppy. My answer is usually something simple such as, "I missed raising" or "a six month break is long enough," but I know there is a more
complex answer which I have not been able to articulate even in my own head.

Since I have had Chalet for two months now and she is still not housebroken, I am frequently asking myself why, oh, why am I doing this again? There has to be a better reason than just the fact that I miss having a puppy around! The answer finally came to me yesterday after reading the monthly newsletter I received from Guide Dogs for the Blind. My favorite articles in the newsletter are the ones which tell what the GDB alumni are doing. Those are the stories that make me think long and hard about what puppy raisers do, why we do it, and what difference it makes. Trying to negotiate the world without the benefit of sight is
almost beyond my comprehension.

Even more incomprehensible to me is how difficult it would be to raise a child who is unable to see. It is difficult enough to raise a sighted child to be independent and secure in a beautiful, yet tough, ever-changing, and sometimes violent world. To raise a blind child to be independent and secure in that same world must be extremely emotionally draining. People do it everyday, however. Mothers and fathers raise their visually impaired children to do the best that they can do and be the best that they can be. And those very same children grow up to be successful, working, independent, and active adults who live life to the fullest.

Tracy Ann Starek, for example, recently traveled to New York City with her guide dog, Willa, and competed in a world fitness competition. Although she did not receive a trophy, Tracy takes that she was the only competitor to receive a standing ovation. While tethered to her cousin, Aerial Gilbert, blind for more than 20 years, competed in a triathlon. Courtney Maddocks and her guide, Tola, will be torch bearers in the Olympic Torch Relay for the 2010 Winter Olympics to be held in Vancouver, British Columbia. Zac Adair and his guide, Alfred, enjoy floating down a river together and playing Frisbee. Zac is currently going to college and eventually wants to lead adventure treks. Robin Smithtro likes to hike, backpack, and camp with her guide, Courtney. Corbb Oconnor is working on a degree in International Affairs at George Washington University in Washington, DC. Corbb has his guide, Phoenix, constantly by his side. Asia Salat and her first guide, Chrissy, went to Egypt to climb a pyramid. Wayne Sibson and his guide, Faraday, have traveled to Taiwan three times. And then there is Michael Hingson who was working in his office on the 78th floor of the World Trade Center when disaster struck on September 11, 2001. Michael's guide dog, Roselle, confidently led him down 78 flights of stairs and out the front door to safety before the building collapsed into a pile of steel and ash.

Although the short answer as to why puppy raisers do what we do might be simply because we can, or because we enjoy it, or because we get personal satisfaction from it, the long answer is more difficult to put into words. Although I cannot speak for other raisers as we each have our own personal reasons, the reason I choose to raise guide dog puppies is closely tied to the stories of the GDB alumni. I do it because it matters. To somebody, somewhere it matters. It matters to the person whose guide dog has the confidence and ability to lead him down 78 flights of stairs of a burning building. It matters to the person who chooses to travel to another country, yet needs a pair of eyes to guide the way. It matters to the student who wants to negotiate a college campus. It matters to those who want to see the world even though they cannot see. And it matters to a mother who was just told her child will never be able to see the colors of a rainbow, or the saguaros standing in silhouette against the bright orange desert sky at sunset, or the sparkle in a lover's eyes, or the beauty of her own baby's smile. I raise guide dog puppies so the mother might enjoy a little extra peace of mind when the time comes to turn her blind child loose into the world. I do it for the mothers and the fathers because I would want -somebody to do it for me. Is there a better reason?

Anonymous, Puppy Raisor

 

WORKING WITH A GUIDE, HEARING OR SERVICE DOG

Learn about Guide, Hearing and Service Dogs through the Video presented by the Disability Rights Center of New Hampshire and Concord Public TV. For accessibility for the blind tab to first button or reads button 3 or 4 hit enter wait 15 seconds to begin or link to Google Video for automatic play.


 

 


In Memory of
Janet Akins and her Dog Guide Fonzie

She was one of the founding members of Dog Guide Users of NH and beyond the call of duty when helping other organization such as NHAB, SSIL and others in her community to live independently with a disability. She was a shining light!.

 


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