How This Whole Dog Thing Works
Over the past month or so, I’ve fielded many questions about the process of receiving a new Seeing Eye dog. Let’s publically answer some of these FAQs…
I started training in Morristown, New Jersey on January 2nd, with a return home date of January 19th. My stay may be a few days longer, due to bookings in NJ where the new dog and I can present under the watchful eyes of a Seeing Eye trainer.
I have requested a lab and my preference is a yellow lab. I know Seeing Eye will give me the best dog for me; but I will not know anything about the dog until we are paired up (any day now!).
I am joined by somewhere around 20 other Seeing Eye dog handlers for this training session. Some, like me, are veteran handlers, some are first timers. First timers spend an extra week or so after we “re-trains” have departed. The first few days are spent evaluating each handler’s walking speed, their physical strengths and professional AND personal life.
For example, to make the best match for me, Seeing Eye trainers know my physical size, the fact I live in a home with two other people and two other dogs, my life spent in airports, hotels, on stage and travelling.
Until I actually meet the dog, I will also not know the dog’s name nor sex. My three previous dogs have been male and I requested another male, though, since all dogs are “fixed”, there isn’t a big difference. At the beginning of the fiscal year, the first litter of puppies all have names that start with A. Second litter all have B names. Continue on through the alphabet and repeat after 26 litters. The dog I receive will be somewhere in the neighborhood of two years old, fully trained. Because the dog has already gone through training, his/her name will be fixed and only in extreme cases will a dog’s name be changed by the handler. I once heard of a woman receiving a dog that shared the first name of her late husband.
I’ll be answering a few more FAQ throughout the month, so if you have some inquiries, please put them in the comments and I’ll try to get those answered for ya!
As always, thank you all for taking this journey with me.