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Rotary Clubs

Seeing Eye Grant

An extra pair of eyes
Training guide dogs not child’s play

Seeing Eye Dog 1

Losing one’s eye sight – or never having it at all – can be devastating. Guide dogs for the blind have been in use for many years. But not just any dog will make a good guide or service dog. It takes careful breeding, selection, training, and partnering with just the right recipient.

The Newark Morning Rotary club made the “early training” part of the whole process just a little easier with a nearly $10,000 grant to provide a web-based training manual for puppy raisers through The Seeing Eye, Inc. of Morristown, NJ.

The Seeing Eye (TSE) is a provider of guide dogs for the blind and visually impaired. The first step in the training process is for volunteers to raise the puppies for about one year, housebreaking and socializing them, before they go for intensive training at the Morristown facility.

If you have ever raised a puppy from about 9 weeks old, you know how frustrating it can be when they continue to piddle on the carpet or chew your favorite slippers. With the Rotary club’s grant, TSE is able to replace a paper version of the training manual for volunteers that was unwieldy, hard to update, and hard to disseminate to the volunteer trainers, with a new on-line version. Besides improved ability to administer, training of puppies is expected to be more effective and more consistent among volunteers.

Consistency is important in the dogs’ training. All commands must be the same, ways of handling, praising or reprimanding, feeding, and socializing. There is nothing cuter than a little puppy but this training is not child’s play.

Over the years Rotary Club President Paul Keely and his wife have raised eight puppies for TSE. Their last puppy, Garen, left in February 2015 for his formal training before being placed with a master.

Seeing Eye Dog 1

Keely estimates the new on-line training manual will lead to better prepared puppies, which will lead to better guide dogs and also to more puppies succeeding at becoming working dog guides. There are 570 active puppy raiser families, with about 250 puppies successfully completing their intensive training and graduating each year.

Development and implementation of the on-line manual were funded by the Newark Morning Rotary Club with support from two other Rotary clubs, Christiana and Newark, Guiding Paws of Delaware, and Firefly Partners, the firm doing the actual on-line manual according to TSE and Newark Morning Rotary specifications.

For more information about The Seeing Eye, visit www.SeeingEye.org.