Before a Seeing Eye ® dog has been matched with a person, he has already had about 18 months of training. The first year or so, the puppy lives with a family, and one person in the family is the designated puppy-raiser. She or he teaches the puppy house manners, takes him out for walks in public places and for rides on public transportation. This socialization is a crutial part of the training, a foundation for the more technical and intense training that comes later from Seeing eye instructors. As students, unlike at other dog guide schools, we are not permitted to have contact with the raisers of our dogs, either before or after placement, to protect our privacy. However, we are encouraged to send anonymous letters to the puppy-raiser, via The Seeing Eye, so they have the gratification of knowing that their hard work in helping with the process has been completed successfully. Heres my letter.
Dear Ciscos Puppy-raiser,
Cisco would like for you to know that he is well and nicely settled in at his new home in Ohio. He adored his trainer at The Seeing Eye, and after a few days, bonded well with me too. Of course you know what a cuddle bug he is. I also have some other pet names for him, such as Gentle giant, Mellow Fellow, Lover Boy, and Handsome Dude. He truly does draw admiring looks from everybody around. Everything you wrote in your report about him is still true. Nothing makes him happier than carrying around one of my shoes. Hes so proud of himself. Most of the time, hes quiet and calm, but he does have his playful moments, even barking at his toys as he entertains himself with them. Because I live alone, I like it that he does an alert bark when hes taken by surprise by someone at the door, but when I tell him its okay, he grabs a toy and is ready to play.
Cisco is my 4th Seeing eye dog, and I must say that hes one of the best. He learns very quickly and enjoys doing his job well. Hes a joy to take to meetings and to church, because he immediately lies down and goes to sleep. One Sunday at church, when it was time to take communion, I worried about whether to take him up front with me or to leave him at my seat. He made the decision for me by being so sound asleep that I couldnt get him to move. So I took the arm of a friend, took communion and returned, while he snoozed away.
Weve been home for 3 months now, and Cisco has learned three quite complicated routes, one to my grocery store, a 3-mile round trip, one to my beauty shop and a coffee shop, a 3.5 mile round trip, and one fairly easy route to my church. We also walk at least 2 miles a day around our neighborhood just for exercise. He loves to hang out in our screened in patio, even when Im in another part of the house. I think he enjoys watching the birds. Last month, we visited a friend of mine who has a little black lab guide dog, and the two of them loved romping around the house together. Then the four of us went out for a walk in her neighborhood, and you would have been very proud of our boy. The next day, we went out for that same walk, just Cisco and me, and he was a champ, remembering to stop at each street and walking at a good strong pace.
As you can tell, Im thrilled with him and am so grateful to The Seeing eye for matching him with me. Thank you for all you did to help prepare him for his career as a great Seeing eye Dog.