Only dogs showing the self-confidence and composure necessary for guide work are assigned to undergo the rigors of guide dog training. This is assessed when the dog leaves their puppy raising family in a process called the In-For-Training Test (IFT). Some dogs are released at this point. Others have potential that we want to evaluate further, until the point that it is clear that they would be happier in another career.
Sometimes the very temperament traits that make a dog unsuitable for guide dog work are the specific traits ideal for detection, law enforcement, or other service dog work.
Guiding Eyes has affiliations with the US government Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), as well as state and local agencies and organizations that train and place dogs for detection work, such as Connecticut State Police Canine Unit, MSA Security and OPS15.
We have placed many dogs with government and private agencies, and we’re proud of how our dogs are working all over the world as detection or other law enforcement canines or with service dog organizations.
While some dogs may not meet the criteria of our Guiding Eyes graduates, they still have great potential to be successful at another guide dog school or service dog school. Each school serves a slightly different population and has different needs.
We carefully evaluate each dog’s temperament to determine which school will give the dog the very best chance at success. We have affiliations with organizations such as Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind, Susquehanna Service Dogs, and NEADS, and we work closely with them to review potential candidates for their training programs.
If the dog does not succeed in its program, it is returned to Guiding Eyes, and we reassess where the dog’s calling lies.
Guiding Eyes has a number of requirements that affiliated agencies, other guide dog schools and service dog organizations must meet, including:
- Contact within the first few weeks of placement, including progress reports and key updates until retirement.
- Providing excellent care to the dog throughout training and final placement.
- Returning the dog to Guiding Eyes for adoption if the dog fails to graduate from the training program.
Based on the agencies’ or organizations’ protocols, various opportunities are offered to our Puppy Raisers. These might include inviting the Puppy Raiser to a graduation or celebratory tea or a meeting, or other communication between the Puppy Raiser and the dog’s handler. The Puppy Raiser may also be provided with a photograph of the dog at graduation or time of final placement.