As Wrangler’s puppy raiser, I am responsible for teaching him basic skills and house manners and socializing him to everything the world has to offer. Going to the Today Show offers Wrangler a continual stream of both the familiar and the unfamiliar – and allows me ample opportunity to help him grow into a confident adult dog.
A guide dog goes everywhere with his handler and needs to stay focused on his work, regardless of environmental distractions. Through practice of his basic obedience skills in various locations around 30 Rock (the Orange Room, the Plaza, the set of SNL – just to name a few!), he is learning that even in new surroundings, he has to be able to focus just as if he were at home.
Wrangler receives lots of love and affection from the cast and crew, as well as many of the celebrities who visit the Orange Room. These greetings socialize him to all different types of personalities and enable him to form relationships with the people he sees every day; he learns that he can trust and work with whoever is holding the end of his leash. Wrangler and Matt have a particularly special bond; each morning they practice obedience skills and enjoy playtime together.
Studio 1A is full of interesting noises. Often bands or musicians come to play and the music can get a bit loud. Wrangler and I practice skills or play games when the music starts so that the experience can be positive for him. Live music could be something he comes across during his working career and getting the exposure now is great preparation for him.
An important part of Wrangler’s training is to learn to be content settling in a crate. Throughout his journey, Wrangler will experience crates in a number of situations. His Orange Room crate teaches him that no matter the location, his crate is a comfortable, safe home for him to relax in. Wrangler loves his crate, and often goes in on his own accord to lie down and chew a bone or take a nap.
Many of the situations Wrangler encounters have become part of his daily routine, however new guests and segments give him the chance to practice specific skills. For example, when Miss. P dropped by the Orange Room after winning Best in Show at Westminster, it gave Wrangler a chance to work on dog distraction. While Wrangler has many opportunities to play with other dogs, including “big brother” Vincent, it’s important he learn to ignore them during times he needs to remain focused.
I like to think of the experiences my puppy has as being part of a “reference library.” TODAY offers Wrangler the ability to build his library in many different ways, and as his library grows, he matures into a confident, adaptable dog, ready to take on the world.
by Guiding Eyes staff member and volunteer puppy raiser Saxon Eastman