Guiding Eye Dogs

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Guiding Eye Dogs for the Blind Each year the Guiding Eyes for the Blind, located in Patterson, NY, provides approximately 250 guide dogs to aid the lives of the visually impaired. These guide dogs consist of Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds that have been exclusively bred at the Guiding Eyes Canine Development Center since the mid-1960s ("Canine Development Center"). Although these dogs inherit the most immaculate genes imaginable becoming a guide dogs takes major commitment from both the dog and the employees and volunteers from the Guiding Eyes. Producing a guide dog is a vigorous process. Between birth and 16 weeks the puppies are exposed to as many environments as possible to help them become accustomed to new situations. They also begin massaging the puppies when they are one week old to "not only enhance health, but also build trust and a strong bond between the humans and puppies" ("Early Training & Socialization"). As soon as the puppies can see and hear, the Guiding Eyes staff begins to socialize them. Socializing consists of exploring new sights, sounds and experiences. Volunteers known as "home socializers" take the puppies out of the kennel environment and introduce them to a home setting between the ages of six and eight weeks old. The puppies' first tests begin after they have been with multiple home socializers. The tests look for "patterns of behavior indicating how well the puppy adapts to change, its quickness of learning, its energy level, its reactions to noises and novel objects after repeated socialization, and finally its willingness to turn its attention to people, even when tempted by sniffing or another dog" ("Puppy Testing"). Temperament testing is also done between the ages of four and eight weeks to determine if a puppy is a good candidate to become a guide dog, or if they would be more successful as a
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