Who can attend?
Anyone interested is welcome to attend a graduation. Puppy Raisers especially are encouraged to attend a graduation, even if your dog is not one of the dogs graduating. Attending a ceremony while your pup is still young can fuel energy and enthusiasm for the challenges of puppy raising.
When and where are graduations?
The ceremonies are held on Saturdays approximately once a month. They start at 1:30 pm. Check the Graduation Schedule for specific dates. Graduations take place in Yorktown Heights at the Training School campus.
Can I bring my dog?
No. In the best interest of the new guide dog and its partner, we ask that you please leave any dogs or other pets you may have at home.
Tips on Interacting with a Blind Person
Please speak directly to the graduate. There is no need to raise your voice. The graduate will let you know if they have an additional hearing disability. Do let the graduate know if you need to leave during the course of your conversation. Do not let the blind person become embarrassed by “talking to the air” after you have left.
Tips on Interacting with a Guide Dog / Graduate Team
Although you will be very excited about seeing and visiting with your dog, there is now another person involved in the dog’s life. Graduation is an emotional time for both the raiser and the graduate.
Despite the gap of time since you and your pup have been together, the bond you share is strong. The graduate has had less time than you to develop a deep relationship with the dog; however, in the future they will work as the closest of partners. Interact with both the graduate and dog in ways that respect their relationship. Ask the graduate for permission to greet the dog, and wait for them to communicate to their dog that it is allowed to visit before speaking to or interacting with the dog. Normally, the graduate will remove the harness in preparation for the greeting. The graduate usually retains control of the leash but may hand the leash to you. Do not take control of the leash unless it is offered. If you do have control of the leash, do not leave the area of the graduate. Be respectful of their budding relationship, return the dog quickly, and discuss their future life together as a team.
Staying in Touch
One of the distinctions of Guiding Eyes is that graduates are given the contact information of all raisers involved with their dog and are encouraged to get in touch. Quite often, graduates and raisers develop a friendship that can last a lifetime. However, this is at the discretion of the graduates − there is absolutely no requirement on their part to communicate with the puppy raisers.
If the graduate does not maintain communication, raisers may contact their Regional Manager for an update on the dog. Raisers are encouraged to keep their contact information up to date with Guiding Eyes.