Guiding Eyes for the Blind is an internationally accredited nonprofit that provides guide dogs to people with vision loss, as well as service dogs to children with autism.
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FAQs

  1. What does a Puppy Raiser do?
  2. What breeds of dog do you use?
  3. Where do your puppies come from?
  4. How old is the puppy when it is placed with a volunteer Puppy Raiser?
  5. Do I need to have a large yard to become a Puppy Raiser?
  6. I have/do not have other pets. Is this a problem?
  7. What will I be responsible for?
  8. How can I give up the puppy?
  9. Do you accept puppies that are not bred by you as donations?
  10. Can I become a Puppy Raiser if I live far away from a Guiding Eyes puppy raising area?
  11. Is there a minimum age to be a Puppy Raiser?
  12. I have previously raised a puppy but that was years ago. Can I still be a Puppy Raiser?
  13. What happens to those puppies that do not become guides?
  14. How long does it take before I can get a puppy?
  15. Can I name my puppy?

1. What does a Puppy Raiser do?

A Puppy Raiser provides the foundation from which one-half of a successful guide dog team is made. These essential volunteers raise a Guiding Eyes puppy for about 14 months, providing the pup with the love, socialization, and basic obedience it will need to succeed in guide dog training. Puppy Raisers teach good house manners and some basic commands, but DO NOT directly train the puppy to be a guide dog. Guide dog training is done by the professionals at Guiding Eyes.

2. What breeds of dog do you use?

Most of our puppies are Labrador Retrievers, although we occasionally use Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds, as well as some other breeds. The dogs have been selectively bred to be self-confident, calm, friendly, able to take responsibility, and to have good health. They are truly remarkable dogs.

v3. Where do your puppies come from?

Most puppies come from Guiding Eyes’ own breeding colony located in Patterson, New York. A few come from other guide dog schools throughout the world, through our cooperative sharing program. Pups selected for puppy raising have been tested for temperament and determined to have potential as guide dogs.

4. How old is the puppy when it is placed with a volunteer Puppy Raiser?

Puppies are usually 8-9 weeks of age when they go to their volunteer puppy raiser. They have likely been to a volunteer socializer’s house, and have had some of their shots, but they are not housebroken. Some raisers need an older puppy that has already been started by another raiser. We will work with your needs; please communicate any special requests in your Puppy Raiser Application.

5. Do I need to have a large yard to become a Puppy Raiser?

No. A Guiding Eyes puppy is raised as a house dog, and therefore does not require a large yard. However, the puppy will require access to outside areas for play, exercise, and toileting (which is done on leash). Long leashes provide the dog with the opportunity to run. You can live in a house, apartment, mobile home, or condominium. The most important thing to remember is that at all times when outside, the puppy must be supervised and on a leash if in an unfenced area.

6. I have/do not have other pets. Is this a problem?

No. The presence of other animals in the home is fine and is usually quite helpful, but it is not a necessity. Your pet needs to be accepting of a new dog in the household.

7. What will I be responsible for?

You, as the raiser, will be asked to provide food and basic supplies, the costs of which may be tax-deductible. Guiding Eyes assumes responsibility for required medical care of the puppy, including regular check-ups and vaccinations.You are also responsible for teaching basic obedience and taking the pup on socialization experiences appropriate for your pup’s confidence level. You must be willing and able to travel to classes and the required quarterly W&T assessments for the pup. Click here for more information on Puppy Raiser responsibilities.

8. How can I give up the puppy?

Although it is difficult to say farewell to a puppy you have raised, Puppy Raisers take great pride in knowing that they have helped these special dogs to achieve their full potential. The joy of helping someone who needs a guide dog helps compensate for the sorrow of giving up a puppy. How many times will you have the opportunity to help another person find new independence?

9. Do you accept puppies that are not bred by you as donations?

Generally no, although there are rare instances in which we accept puppies from private breeders to supplement our breeding lines.

10. Can I become a Puppy Raiser if I live far away from a Guiding Eyes puppy raising area?

Guiding Eyes has puppy raisers primarily on the Eastern Seaboard, stretching from Maine to North Carolina, and west to Ohio. Puppy raisers are organized into groups that we call Puppy raising Regions. As a new puppy raiser, you will be assigned to the region that is closest to where you live. Each region holds its own pre- placement training, puppy classes, and puppy W&T assessments. Being a puppy raiser will require you to travel to and from the class location weekly or every other week.

11. Is there a minimum age to be a Puppy Raiser?

People of all ages have been successful puppy raisers. Youth raisers need the support of their family to provide transportation to meetings and provide socialization experiences on a regular basis. An adult should also attend the classes and training so the entire family is consistent and knowledgeable when interacting with the puppy. Youth raisers completing puppy raising have demonstrated an impressive level of maturity, ability to take responsibility, and shown compassion to others through giving. For legal reasons, we require an adult to sign appropriate paperwork.

12. I have previously raised a puppy but that was years ago. Can I still be a Puppy Raiser?

We welcome our past raisers to raise again. We will ask that you get updated on raising techniques and other information by attending the pre-placement classes before you are matched with a puppy.

13. What happens to those puppies that do not become guides?

Those dogs that do not meet our stringent criteria for guide work can become detection dogs, search and rescue dogs, therapy dogs, or cherished family pets. Regardless of the career paths our dogs choose, we are immensely proud of every one.

14. How long does it take before I can get a puppy?

You will be matched with a puppy once you have fulfilled the pre-placement portion of your puppy raising experience. This involves attending local classes where you will be introduced to our organization and taught to a reasonable level of proficiency in our training methods and philosophy. Prior to receiving a puppy, you will also have the opportunity to “puppy sit” for several Guiding Eyes dogs in your local area. This pre-placement process can take several months, depending on individual circumstances.

15. Can I name my puppy?

Our puppies are given names when they are born. Each litter is given a sequential letter of the alphabet, and the puppies from that litter receive names starting with that letter. Every puppy gets a tattoo number that includes the designating letter (and the repeat of the letter, e.g. 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) and year. Thus Farley (6F406) was born in the fourth F litter in 2006. Occasionally a dog has a special name provided by a donor who became part of our Special Name Program or Pathfinder Society Program.

Have a question?
Email us at cdc@guidingeyes.org