A Day in the Life: Emily Gray
I was eight when I first heard about Guiding Eyes for the Blind. My neighbor was raising Joplin, an eight-week-old yellow lab puppy. As I watched Joplin grow and mature during that year, I decided that I too wanted to be a puppy raiser.
Hart, my black Lab, arrived a month after my thirteenth birthday. He was 14 weeks old and almost 30 pounds. I was thrilled. Hart was my challenge pup, and I sure learned a lot from him. He worried about some things, so socialization had to be done slowly. Loose leash walking was tough at times, but over time he learned. Hart was very high energy and goofy, but every time he wore his blue puppy coat, he was all business.
Giving Hart back to Guiding Eyes for the Blind for formal training was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I’ll never forget how I felt when I shut his kennel door and walked away. It took every ounce of strength not to look back.
Pepe, my small and sweet yellow Lab, was eight weeks old and 13 pounds when I brought him home. I was so glad to have Pepe immediately after Hart’s departure, since he helped fill the void. In time, we became a great team. He was similar to Hart in many ways; they both rested on my feet and followed me everywhere. My experience with Hart helped me tremendously with Pepe; I cannot wait to have more adventures with Pepe as he continues his journey as a guide dog puppy in training.
When I learned from Guiding Eyes that Hart was released from guide dog training, I had mixed feelings. I had wanted Hart to be a guide so badly. But in the end, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives took Hart. I was so happy that he would have a career. He loves working. He will become trained in either arson investigation or bomb detection.
I love puppy raising. I have met some wonderful people through the program, and have built excellent dog-handling skills. The bi-weekly Guiding Eyes puppy classes are something I look forward to. Yeah, it was hard to give up my dog, but I look at it positively. I may want the dog, but I don’t need him. I feel blessed to have these dogs for 14 to 16 months, and I have definitely become a more responsible person through this experience. Whatever the future brings, I hope it will involve Guiding Eyes for the Blind.