Over co-op I had the opportunity to go to Guide Dogs for the Blind. They have two locations, one in Oregon and one in San Raefel, CA, where they raise and breed dogs, train the dogs, place them with people in need of a service animal, and help educate people on what they do there. There are not many places in the United States that will allow people to come to their facility so I was very lucky to have the chance to go there.
While there I got a tour of their facility. They had dorms where the people who were getting the service dog would stay during their training. They also had large facilities where they bred the dogs, raised them, began initial training, a vet clinic, and more. Below are notes I took while on my tour as well as some pictures I was able to capture.
- Cancer sniffing dogs
- Companion dogs for younger kids who can’t take care of a dog yet.
- Typically working for seven years
- All Bred on campus so they know the success rate.
- Socialize puppies at 5.5 weeks to get used to their collar then put on leash. Leave anywhere from 8-10 weeks to the puppy raiser who keeps them for a year. Come back for training at 14-16 months old. Training is about weeks and it is custom training. Phone interview and then trainers go to the home to check it out and make sure the dog is safe and the family understands the responsibility. Once approved they are on a waiting list for up to 9 months. Owner goes to train for two weeks
- Retriever. Yellow and black labs.
- All money comes from donors, no government funding.
- Classes usually 8 people
- Housing on campus, private room
- Look at a persons height, how fast they walk, if they have a job, etc. to pair a dog
- First day they work with a wooden dog covered in carpet to get used to the harness
- Most training is in the city.
- Serve all over the United States and Canada from this campus
- If a dog retires the person can keep it if they want and still get another service dog. If they don’t want to keep it the puppy raiser has first choice to keep it.
- A mom can have five litters
- 3-400 pounds of dog food a day
- Require dogs to wear a harness that says guide dog and puppies wear a bandana that says dog in training