Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Become a Foster

Being the Foster or Sitter of a Guiding Eyes Breeding Dog is an exciting opportunity. You will not only be giving a home to the parent dog of a potential future guide dog(s), but you’ll also be joining an extended family of Guiding Eyes volunteers and staff, all working towards the mission of giving independence to an individual with visual loss. Fosters can provide a vital link to the success of our Puppy Raising Program as well, by including the raiser in the new career of the brood or stud that they lovingly nurtured as a tiny puppy. Support from our trained staff is always just a phone call or email away. We are there to address any questions or concerns the foster or sitter may have.


Do you mind dog hair, cleaning up after the dog, lots of sloppy kisses, and the other aspects of having a dog around? Can you devote adequate time to exercise, assessments, breeding appointments and care? We hope you will review the following information carefully and consider making the long-term commitment to providing a safe and loving home to a Guiding Eyes Breeding Dog.



Guiding Eyes breeding dogs are required to make multiple trips per year to our facilities, (in Patterson or Yorktown Heights, N.Y.), with studs needed on-site more frequently. You are responsible for transporting your dog.

Training, Assessments and Medical Care

On average, a new foster must attend two lessons with Guiding Eyes staff before taking the dog home.  All breeding dogs must attend the annual Eye Clinic, (continuing after retirement) and a quarterly assessment meeting at the Patterson campus to assess the dog’s fitness and behavior, and monitor grooming, general care, and proper identification tags.  Vaccines and medical treatment can also be provided at the Yorktown Heights facility. Fosters/sitters must identify a 24hr emergency veterinary clinic close to their residence in case of a life-threatening emergency.

Health and Condition

It is critical that fosters should maintain a breeding dog in peak condition, for both the health of the dog and the success of breeding.  Just as in people, proper conditioning is a daily process. The ability of the brood to deliver puppies quickly and with fewer complications is directly related to her physical condition and stamina. Similarly, studs must be well-conditioned to have the stamina for successful breeding. Dogs that have been kept in peak condition will have:

  • Increased stamina and stronger abdominal muscles, thus reducing or preventing stillborn puppies or the need for a C-section delivery during whelping.
  • Greater longevity and quality of health by reducing or preventing debilitating joint disease.
  • Easier weight maintenance due to more muscle mass.
  • A happier and more energetic outlook.

Exercise and Weight Management

Proper condition can be attained and maintained through exercise and weight management. Dogs are required to have a minimum of 21 miles per week (3 miles/day) of walking or running on leash. Optimum exercise is 35 miles per week (5 miles per day). Fosters must maintain their breeding dogs at the Guiding Eyes-determined target weight. When receiving the dog, they are instructed on the frequency of feeding and quantity of food necessary to keep the dog at its target weight. It is important to measure food accurately and be mindful of treats. Dogs that are more than 5 pounds overweight may have to be returned for re-homing until the dog’s weight is corrected. If the foster cannot properly maintain the dog’s weight, permanent re-homing will be required.


When outside, Guiding Eyes breeding dogs must always be on leash or in a secure fenced area, monitored by a responsible adult and prevented from any extracurricular sexual activity. To avoid temperature related injury, fosters/sitters should walk the dog in the early morning or evening during hot days, and midday when it is very cold. All family members must be willing to accept the responsibility of keeping the dog safe.

Sitter Network and Travel

Fosters/sitters are allowed to take their breeding dog on vacation with them, but only if the dog is not needed by Guiding Eyes during that period. If travelling without the dog, the foster is responsible for using our sitter network to locate an approved sitter. Guiding Eyes will provide a Sitter Network list, comprised of foster families that have agreed to sit dogs in their homes. The dogs will get the same quality care and training they receive at home without being exposed to viruses and pathogens from outside kennels.


Breeding dogs cannot be boarded at the Breeding Kennel, except in cases of family emergencies. It is vital to arrange for a sitter well in advance. It is acceptable to use an out-of-network sitter only if they have been educated in the care and safekeeping of our dogs, such as proper leash walking, feeding, safety and breeding considerations. They must not have another dog in the home that is unhealthy, not fully vaccinated, or unable to interact appropriately with the breeding dog. Guiding Eyes must receive complete contact information and dates, prior to leaving the dog with the sitter.


Fosters and sitters must sign a Foster Agreement or Sitter Agreement that addresses the requirements and policies that will continue throughout the dog’s breeding career.

The Differences Between Caring for a Brood or Stud Dog

Though it’s important to remember that the gender of the dog does not determine the personality of the dog, there are important differences between stud and brood dogs that you should consider – and we can help find the perfect match for you.

The Stud Program

  • For studs, time away from home is for shorter, more frequent periods. A stud is required to visit Guiding Eyes several times per year for breeding appointments, usually with 3 days advance notice, (occasionally 24hr). The dogs are usually mated twice, 2 days apart. The foster will also need to bring the stud in during the workweek for collection of semen for freezing. The foster may arrange to leave the stud for a few days, for multiple breedings, but must pick up the dog promptly as arranged.
  • Stud fosters need consistent, skilled dog-handling abilities to maintain a well-behaved dog, because of a stud’s size and hormonal drive.
  • There are fewer fosters available for dog-sitting studs than broods, so you may have to work harder to find a sitter for your stud.
  • About 5 new studs are kept for breeding each year, compared with 25 broods. Thus, you may wait longer for the opportunity to foster a stud.

The Brood Program

  • Broods typically spend three weeks twice a year in the Breeding Kennel during their heat cycle (based on 6mth intervals), whether being bred or not and stay at the Whelping Kennel for 5 to 6 weeks to deliver and care for their puppies.
  • In general, broods tend to be easier to handle.
  • Brood fosters require additional training, provided by Guiding Eyes, to care for the brood during pregnancy and upon her return home after whelping.
  • Fosters of broods must perform daily monitoring around the expected time of heat to determine whether heat has started, call the Breeding Kennel the day heat starts, and deliver the brood within 36 hours.
  • During pregnancy, the foster will need to bring the brood in at least once for an ultrasound appointment.