Guiding Eyes Puppy Raisers – generous volunteers who help prepare our pups for guide dog training – are an extraordinary group of people, and many provide valuable socialization experiences by taking their pups to work or class. Puppy raiser Dr. Frances Seymour of the Delmarva Puppy Raising region is a prime example of this. She is an internist in a primary care office, where the four beloved Lab puppies she has raised have enjoyed a unique socialization opportunity. Pendleton, Gus, Quince, and now Kelly, have had lots of “meet and greets,” and the reaction of the patients has been quite favorable.
Occasionally, a well-behaved puppy is invited in at the end of a patient’s visit, creating a great experience for both pup and patient. “Sometimes our patients feel unwell due to chronic illness, but when they see the puppy in the front office playing, or if the puppy runs to a gate to greet them, it will light up their faces and give them a brief moment of joy,” she says.
Updates about the dogs and their careers are welcome news at Dr. Seymour’s office. Pendleton is a working guide in Maryland, while Gus is in formal guide dog training, and Quince is under consideration as a future breeding dog. A month prior to Quince’s return to Guiding Eyes, Frances “doubled up” and welcomed little Kelly into her home, also a pup from brood Cammie.
When asked about the moments of greatest satisfaction and what this experience has taught her, Dr. Seymour says, “Watching another being learn a new task or behavior, develop problem solving ability, or simply just mature, is a lot of fun and very rewarding.” She adds, “This has been a great exercise in learning and growing my ability to be patient. Puppy raising has also helped me learn to laugh at myself more, and to step out of my comfort zone to expand a puppy’s social experiences.”
Dr. Seymour finds great satisfaction in her volunteer role supporting the Guiding Eyes for the Blind mission. She puppy-sits when other raisers need a hand, and hosts a display in her waiting room providing information on Guiding Eyes puppy raising. “It provides moments of joy in life every day. The pups are wonderful companions and very entertaining as they move through various stages of behavior and maturity. Sometimes I think these moments of joy I mentioned are missing for many people,” she says.
Always happy to share her wonderful experiences to promote interest in Guiding Eyes, Dr. Seymour says, “When I speak to people about raising puppies, they often say that they would not be able to give the puppy up, but I look at puppy raising as an opportunity to help provide a resource to people with need. I look at these puppies, and they have been bred and raised for the work of helping others get through life, and I think helping to fulfill that destiny is worth doing. If I was losing my vision, I would love it if someone would raise a puppy for me.”