Anatomy of a Leader Dog
I am a Golden Labrador Retriever. Currently, I am only a small puppy but, with time and training, I can grow up to become a serious working service dog. A volunteer will raise me after I am seven to eight weeks of age. From the time I’m picked up, I will rely on this volunteer for care and guidance. This is where my training begins. I will be house-trained and socialized, two very important aspects of being a future leader dog. The more I see and experience during this first year will determine how adaptable I am when exposed to a variety of situations. Even simple everyday environments are an essential part of socialization. I must be exposed to stairways which could be carpeted, tiled, wood open back, grated, spiraling, inside or outside.
I will have to be trained to recognize every potential surface because I will become the eyes of a blind person. It will be my responsibility to keep the blind person safe and give him or her an opportunity to gain independence, so it is important that I have a loving family to start me on my way to be a steadfast leader dog. This loving and attentive home will help me achieve the goal of being a dependable service dog.
After a year or so, I will qualify to attend a formal leader dog training school. Here, I will learn a great many skills. I must learn to protect the unsighted person from all barriers.
After formal training, I will be introduced to my future life companion and, hopefully, we will be well matched and form a good working bond. We will spend a great deal of time together, learning everyday skills. We will travel the streets together, learning how to navigate through traffic.
By now, I can safely cross streets and know how to guide my owner through traffic signals. A great deal of time and effort and many people have been involved in my training to become a dependable, mature leader dog.
After many weeks of training with my new owner, we will go to our own home. I anticipate being the eyes of my owner for many years to come. My owner will have complete trust in my ability to guide him or her through any danger.
As you can see, mine is a very important job and will take extremely intensive training to become the eyes of my owner.
Here are a couple of websites you might like to visit:
The Seeing eye:
Eye Dog Foundation for the Blind:
The Puppy Place:
– Dolores Cook
Mason, Michigan, U. S. A.