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Adventures of Gus: Summer Vacation

The Panek family with guide dog Gus, pet dog Onyx and future guide dogs Nimble and Nellby Thomas A. Panek, Guiding Eyes President & CEO

The next time someone asks what you’re doing on your time off and you can respond that you have no plans, consider volunteering at Guiding Eyes as a Home Socializer.   These are volunteers who bring home six to eight week old puppies for two to five days to provide exposure to new sights, sounds and people.

After my wife Melissa successfully completed Home Socialization training, our family was ready to bring puppies home.  Well, this past weekend, when camp ended and the kids were no longer entertained by counting who had the most mosquito bites, we had no plans.   So, we signed up and Gus and I traveled to the Canine Development Center in Patterson to pick up two sweet six-week-old yellow Lab pups – Nimble and Nan.

We were happy to continue our furry house-guests’ training with socialization techniques that were started at Guiding Eyes.  From time to time, Gus even helped by poking his nose into the exercise pen to check in on the progress of the new recruits.

Keeping the puppies’ playpen clean reminded us a lot of our four children as infants; it is a frequent chore and a labor of love that starts early in the morning.  In retrospect, newspaper is a lot easier to change than diapers!  We were pleasantly surprised that even at six weeks our two pups consistently sat to eat and were ALMOST housebroken…  One morning at an hour before even coffee machines can function, a small knock came on our bedroom door with an announcement from our six-year-old asking if we knew that one of our pups had an “oopsie.”

As a volunteer, Melissa was happy to provide these puppies with practice in leash walking, riding in cars, sitting for meals, crate time and name response – to name a few.  Together, these skills form the foundation for these puppies to one day become a guide dog like Gus.

If you love dogs and are willing and able to take home puppies at least six times a year, we need your help.  Donations allow us to provide you with all the equipment and supplies (except that newspaper!) needed for puppy care – including an exercise pen and a crate for transportation.  Take the first step to become a Home Socializer now; visit our Home Socialization page to learn more.

And, the next time someone asks you what you did last weekend, you can proudly say, “I helped socialize a puppy for Guiding Eyes!”

Collage of the Panek family with pups Nimble and Nan