A collaboration between Guiding Eyes for the Blind and the University of Texas
Background on a collaborative project
Puppy raisers are the heart and soul of our Guiding Eyes for the Blind program providing an invaluable service by providing love and a solid foundation for young puppies. Our empirical observations indicate puppy raisers have a major impact on the ultimate success of guide dogs. However, little is known about what aspects of the puppy raisers and their relationship with their dogs are most important. A new collaborative project between Guiding Eyes for the Blind and the University of Texas at Austin aims to answer these questions and help us validate assumptions that are the core of our Successive Training and Enrichment Program (STEP®) by using the insights gained from this study to further improve our program.
About the researchers.
The researchers are Jamie Fratkin, a PhD student, and Professor Sam Gosling in the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.
What we hope to accomplish
We know that you as a puppy raiser provide an invaluable service by raising a Guiding Eyes puppy and we want to better understand what you do. Specifically, we want to better understand the relationship that forms between you and your Guiding Eyes puppy. We believe the information gathered throughout the study may be useful in further improving STEP® by, for example, refining the training and information given to new puppy raisers. The information obtained in the study may also serve to validate the future direction of training guide dogs throughout the world.
What is involved in the study
Current puppy raisers will be emailed a specifically designed questionnaire that assesses characteristics of your relationships with your dog and information about your personality. The questionnaire will take 20-30 minutes to complete. At the beginning of each walk & talk, raisers will be asked to do a simple figure 8 exercise. It will be important for the raiser participating in this exercise to be the person filling out the questionnaire. To understand how relationships may change over time, we will send a follow-up questionnaire after each of your walk and talks. To gain a complete picture and statistical consistency, as part of the study, you will be asked to provide the name and email of 3 additional people who would be willing to help us with our study. They should know you and your relationship with your Guiding Eyes pup. This could be a member of your household or a friend who is also familiar with you dog. After each Walk & Talk, they will receive an email asking them to fill out a questionnaire, which will take approximately 10-15 minutes of their time.
Do I have to participate?
No. While we hope to include as many puppy raisers as possible, your participation is completely voluntary. It is our hope that all of our raisers will choose to participate in this study by returning the consent form which will be emailed out to all primary raisers in the coming months.
Will my answers be identifiable from my responses?
No. Only researchers from UT-Austin will be able to see the individual responses, which will be kept confidential and secure. All reports will focus on aggregate de-identified data. In short, your answers will be completely anonymous.
How can I help?
By participating in the study. This study is of great interest and importance to Guiding Eyes for the Blind. The information gained will be instrumental in further improvements of our STEP® program. Helping us in this study will help our program be even more effective.
What should I do if I have any questions or concerns?
You are the experts and we value your feedback—positive or negative—enormously. So don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.