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Old 06-01-2010, 10:20 AM   #1
Gatto Nero
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Default Guiding Eyes puppy

This past weekend we brought Rhiana into our home. Rhiana is a yellow lab from Guiding Eyes for the Blind. My daughter is volunteering to raise and care for her for the next year and a half or so. Her job is to see that she is raised and trained properly until she is old enough to receive her Guiding Eyes training. In order to qualify to raise her my daughter has been going to "puppy classes" twice per month since November. Now that she has taken possession of Rhiana she will be attending classes every week to make sure that she is highly trained and exposed to most anything she may encounter when she becomes a service dog. When she leaves our home she will go back to Guiding Eyes for the Blind where she will be trained as a seeing eye dog. I'm sure it will be very difficult to see her go but we know she will be invaluable to whoever she ends up being teamed with as a seeing eye dog.
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Old 06-03-2010, 09:22 AM   #2
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That is wonderful. I would love to do something like that. I lost my dog a little over a year ago and it is still painful. I miss her so. How do you go about this?
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Old 06-03-2010, 01:01 PM   #3
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That is wonderful. I would love to do something like that. I lost my dog a little over a year ago and it is still painful. I miss her so. How do you go about this?
I apologize for the error but I meant to put the link to Guiding Eyes in my original post. Instead I put the link to the same picture of Rhiana. I have fixed now it but you can also get it from here.

It really is a cool thing. I give my daughter all the credit in the world. It is quite a commitment for a high school kid. Although my wife and I will be pitching in she is the one that pursued this from the beginning and will be doing a large majority of the care and training. She saw a dog with a vest when we went to visit my son at college last fall. After speaking with the woman that had the dog she tracked down the link above and took it from there. Like I said above, she has been going to classes every other week since November to learn how to train the dog properly and now that she has her she will need to drive from Meredith down to Nashua every Sunday for the entire summer to continue those classes one on one with Rhiana and other dogs of the same age.

Although we are all loving it now we know it will be brutal when we have to give her up 18 months or so from now. I hope it helps that my daughter will be going off to college at about the same time we have to give Rhiana back.

I know they are always looking for volunteers so if you think you can do it just follow that link. I'd be happy to answer any other questions you may have, but may refer to my daughter for the real answers.

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Old 06-03-2010, 03:30 PM   #4
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Default Guiding Eyes-how terrific

GN: I am sure that relinquishing this dog in 18 months will be extremely difficult for everyone... But what a tremendous thing to do! I think you have to focus on how what you and your family are doing with this dog will enhance the life of somebody who truly needs the talent and skill Riahna will bring to their lives. What a gift. You will cry for days - but the person who receives the dog will smile for years.
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Old 06-03-2010, 08:36 PM   #5
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GN: I am sure that relinquishing this dog in 18 months will be extremely difficult for everyone... But what a tremendous thing to do! I think you have to focus on how what you and your family are doing with this dog will enhance the life of somebody who truly needs the talent and skill Riahna will bring to their lives. What a gift. You will cry for days - but the person who receives the dog will smile for years.
We have no doubt it will be tough, but one of the other puppy raisers with spoke with, who is on her forth dog, said that she views it as the puppy going off to college just like your kids do. Stories like this also help considerably.
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Old 08-01-2010, 12:52 PM   #6
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I raised three German Shepards, and two Labs for the blind and deaf. One thing to consider is that not all puppies are accepted into the various programs. Just mentioning this as the true temperament of a dog does not really come into play until the age of two. If your program tests the puppy and it fails, you might just be keeping a dog for a while, as then normally give the trainer first dibs.......
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Old 08-05-2010, 07:16 AM   #7
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Yes, we're aware of that. but we probably wouldn't be keeping her either way so we're really hoping that she makes it. Its really my daughter that's doing this and she is off to college at about this time next year. We already have a pretty cool house dog and I'm not sure my wife an I have the patience to keep another long term. I know that there is also a waiting list of good families looking to pick up the dogs that don't make it into the program.
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Old 08-09-2010, 11:48 AM   #8
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Yes, we're aware of that. but we probably wouldn't be keeping her either way so we're really hoping that she makes it. Its really my daughter that's doing this and she is off to college at about this time next year. We already have a pretty cool house dog and I'm not sure my wife an I have the patience to keep another long term. I know that there is also a waiting list of good families looking to pick up the dogs that don't make it into the program.
I had the pleasure of meeting Rhiana a few weeks ago. Cutest puppy! Great thing your daughter has taken on. The feeling when it is time to let go, knowing that it is going to assist someone with a disability, and will help with what alot of us take for granted in our everyday lives, is priceless.
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Old 03-24-2012, 02:24 PM   #9
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My daughter Melissa, in the Sox cap, spent almost a year and a half training Rhiana from a puppy of 9 weeks.. In September of last year, just as Melissa was heading to her freshman year of college, she had to return Rhiana to Guiding Eyes in upstate New York to begin the formal part of her guide dog training. It was a very emotional time in our house. In the months since then we have been getting regular updates on Rhiana's progress. The trainers there were consistently impressed with the job that Melissa had done with her and never failed to tell her so. Three weeks ago Rhiana met and trained with her new owner (left). Today Rhiana graduated and will now travel to Indiana where she will live and serve her owner. Today was another very emotional day for Melissa. Of course she's proud of what she was able to do but now has to say goodbye to Rhiana forever, which was one of the harder things she has ever had to do. To say I'm proud of her is a serious understatement. I know how hard she worked and how much love she gave for a fantastic cause. Congratulations Melissa and Rhiana. The pleasure was all ours. Name:  ImageUploadedByTapatalk1332615562.049063.jpg
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Old 03-24-2012, 04:42 PM   #10
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Congratulations and a BIG Thank You to Melissa for her wonderful effort of selflessly giving to help another.
As a parent you have also done a wonderful job raising Melissa.
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Old 03-24-2012, 05:34 PM   #11
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Default Kindness runs in your family...

Thanks for sharing the "rest of the story". Your daughter did a wonderful thing. You are right to feel very proud of her!

Dianne and I are still grateful to you for contacting us when you thought you had "found" our missing cat Harley. It was a pleasure meeting you and your wife.
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Old 03-25-2012, 06:25 AM   #12
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Default Thank You.

I'm sitting here with tears streaming down my face for two reasons.

1. I know how hard it is to say goodbye to an animal forever.

2. I'm extremely proud of Melissa and I don't even know her. The caliber of person she is must make you proud beyond words.

Thank you for sharing your wonderful story.
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Old 03-25-2012, 09:41 AM   #13
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Default A.c.t.s.

In the Lakes Region, we have a local organization that raises service dogs for people with mobility issues, from balance problems to wheelchair use, A.C.T.S. This wonderful organization was started in 2005 by Dot Hyde-Williams, and has since graduated seven dogs from the program. Each of the puppy raisers is a volunteer, giving about 2 years of training time to each dog they raise for the program.

This year, I became a raiser/trainer for Callie. Since I live with the family, I also get to watch Westin and Phoenix grow and learn. Westin is Callie's brother (litter mate), not that you can tell when you look at them! It has been such an education learning about the tasks, the psychology of dogs and what it really takes to train a puppy.

When we are doing public access training, which is when we take the dogs out in public, I often have people stop me and ask questions. One of the frequent ones is "How can you ever give them up?". These dogs are trained to help someone else. Yes, the trainers and their families grow to love these dogs, we know that these dogs are meant to go on to bigger and brighter futures, to truly help someone who needs them. It is such a joy to see these dogs with their "person", to see how much they love and help this person!

Please check out this wonderful local organization! They are always looking for great puppy raisers/trainers who are willing to put in the time and love to these incredible dogs.
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Old 03-25-2012, 10:02 AM   #14
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What an amazing sacrifice and gift! You are understandably proud.
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Old 03-25-2012, 11:17 AM   #15
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Yeah, we may not know your daughter personally, but through her actions we can pretty well tell what kind of a woman she is. I too am so proud of her caring and kindness she has shown, to do this for another person in need.
Her love will shine through in this dog and her new owner will be so grateful for your daughters hard work, and love. I don't know though. "Proud" may just not be a good enough word.
Kudos to her parents as well. I think they may have had a little to do with it too! Two thumbs up all around!

Oh yeah.....Rhiana.....good job girl!
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Old 03-26-2012, 01:39 PM   #16
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What a wonderful story.....your daughter is amazing! And Rhianna is beautiful.
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Old 03-26-2012, 01:57 PM   #17
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Thumbs up Congratulation!

And Thank you for your service to help those with disabilities to lead independent lives.

After my retirement I fulfill my days volunteering for the Northeast Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services in Concord, NH. I am also on the Governor's Commission on Disabilities. I have been instrumental in providing hearing aid assistance from the health insurance industry.

Feel free to ask me how anyone can volunteer or help in any way those with disability who needs assistance in their daily iives.
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Old 03-29-2012, 12:31 AM   #18
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One of the best threads on here. Outstanding job is an understatement!
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Old 03-29-2012, 08:04 AM   #19
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Default Raising a service dog...

I too am sitting here with tears in my eyes after reading the postings...

My wife and I have been blessed with a trained service dog from Canine Companions of Independence...Unfortunately for many of the trained dogs most do not make the grade to go on as an answered prayer for those in need. We were very fortunate to have Victor a yellow lab introduced to our home several years ago. In Victor's case, he couldn't be broken of a fear of loud noises so had to go up for adoption...At the time, there were serious physcological problems in out home and it was a blessing from God to get Victor and he did save a life...
His puppy trainer has trained several dogs and we have got to know him and his wife personally since adopting Victor...Each year at Thanksgiving we make the annual trek to relatives and Jim, Victor's trainer is there with his wife... They purposely stay at the other end of the house ( ranch house ) and Jim, in a normal voice, will say, " is that you Victor " and Victor will run through the house to meet his " Pa Pa Jim " ( tears in my eyes now, lol ) Its always a wonderful reunion...and we all sit and give special Thanks before our meal...btw..Victor recognizes the route we take each year and knows where he is going a good ten miles before we get there..he starts to pant and lots of tail wagging...
The people raising these dogs are special people..and all deserve a special place in Heaven one day....to raise a dog as intelligent as these dogs are, and then be able to give them up ...takes a very special and unselfish person...Bless you all..
Please support these wonderful organizations...no matter which one it is...they all do wonderful work...
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Old 03-29-2012, 11:03 AM   #20
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Talking Thank You!!!

It's always a blessing to get goosebumps when I read something so profound!!!

And my goosebumps are "moosebumps" they're so big!!

Thank you!!!

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Old 03-29-2012, 03:13 PM   #21
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This is the most life-affirming thread I have ever read.

I had the serendipitous experience to start reading the thread without looking at the date of the first post. My initial thought was "what is going to happen in eighteen months?" What joy to get the answer immediately and what a happy ending.

Thank you.
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Old 05-05-2012, 08:08 AM   #22
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I guess it was inevitable. The void left by Rhiana had to be filled, according to my wife and daughter anyway. So now we start all over again with Perkins. He's a 10 week old yellow lab. Part of the job is to socialize him so I'm sure some of you will see him out and about with us this summer. Name:  ImageUploadedByTapatalk1336223183.069099.jpg
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Old 05-05-2012, 01:14 PM   #23
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Default What an amazing story!

Here's a video of a guide dog who guides a blind dog!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCgMz2A02zU
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Old 05-06-2012, 12:18 AM   #24
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I guess it was inevitable. The void left by Rhiana had to be filled, according to my wife and daughter anyway. So now we start all over again with Perkins. He's a 10 week old yellow lab. Part of the job is to socialize him so I'm sure some of you will see him out and about with us this summer. Attachment 6109
What a adorable puppy!
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Old 05-08-2012, 12:17 PM   #25
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I guess it was inevitable. The void left by Rhiana had to be filled, according to my wife and daughter anyway. So now we start all over again with Perkins. He's a 10 week old yellow lab. Part of the job is to socialize him so I'm sure some of you will see him out and about with us this summer. Attachment 6109
What a great looking pup Gatto!! I'm sure you will have MANY fun filled years with "Perkins'!!

Congratulations!

Dan
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Old 05-10-2012, 08:35 AM   #26
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What a great looking pup Gatto!! I'm sure you will have MANY fun filled years with "Perkins'!!

Congratulations!

Dan
Unfortunately, Perkins will only be with us a short time. He's also a Guiding Eyes puppy so they'll be taking him back for his formal training before we know it.
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Old 07-09-2013, 01:27 PM   #27
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Hard to believe but Perkins will be leaving us next week to begin his formal training to be a Guiding Eyes dog. My wife has done an amazing job with the big lug head. I hope and trust that he makes it through and will someday be a huge help someone who needs him. Name:  ImageUploadedByTapatalk1373394231.918791.jpg
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Old 07-09-2013, 04:25 PM   #28
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Hard to believe but Perkins will be leaving us next week to begin his formal training to be a Guiding Eyes dog. My wife has done an amazing job with the big lug head. I hope and trust that he makes it through and will someday be a huge help someone who needs him. Attachment 8065
Saw mrs gatto down at Heaths today as she was out getting Perkins used to people. Great dog. Hope everything works out
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Old 07-10-2013, 03:54 PM   #29
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Default Guiding Eyes Dogs

Gatto: great job. I don't know how you do it... I know it is for the best of causes, but I think my heart would just break. I remember your original post when your daughter was doing this as a project. She also did a great job. You guys rock!
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Old 07-10-2013, 04:34 PM   #30
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I agree, donna. I couldn't do it either. I would fall in love with every dog and not be able to give it up.
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Old 07-15-2013, 06:06 AM   #31
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No way I could do it either!!! I'd want to keep them. Two questions:

1: Does it ever happen that a family refuses to give up their dog after taking them on as a pup? What happens then?

2: Do any dogs ever "not make the grade" and if so are they offered back to the original family that had them?

Anyone know?
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Old 07-15-2013, 09:59 AM   #32
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We have friends that have a beautiful golden. she didn't make the cut as she is so afraid of thunder. What a great dog and pet she is
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Old 07-15-2013, 10:20 AM   #33
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No way I could do it either!!! I'd want to keep them. Two questions:

1: Does it ever happen that a family refuses to give up their dog after taking them on as a pup? What happens then?

2: Do any dogs ever "not make the grade" and if so are they offered back to the original family that had them?

Anyone know?
I don't know the full answer to question #1 whether it happened but I can tell you that is not an option. These dogs are owned by Guiding Eyes and they are very expensive to breed, and train. I don't recall if we signed anything to that effect but it's very clear what you are getting into when you take on the responsibility.

As for questions #2, Yes it happens all the time. I don't know the percentages but they are very strict about the performance and health of each dog that gets thru. Some may not qualify as Seeing Eye dog but may qualify for something else like for an autistic child. Some become bomb or drug sniffers. Some are cut out right from the get go. When Perkins leaves here on Saturday he will go back to the NY headquarters and be tested for all kinds of things. Health is a big one, of course. If a puppy has 3 or more ear infections they are cut from the program. If they are habitually afraid of something, such an an umbrella or a vacuum they are cut. When that happens the family that raised them gets first crack at keeping them but if they don't want them there is a long list of people waiting to take them. I am told that even once they are let out of the program they are continually tracked and checked up on.
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Old 07-15-2013, 10:36 AM   #34
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I'd beat mine with a vacuum to be sure I got it back.......Naw just kidding....I couldn't do that wouldn't want to give them up. Waiting for my pup to be born any day now from a breeder we went through. He won't be swimming "up there" this summer but hopefully next he'll be in and around M'boro.
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Old 07-17-2013, 07:51 AM   #35
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This is one of the most inspirational and heart string tugging threads ever on this site.
Thank you for sharing the stories of Rhiana and Perkins. They are 2 very special dogs in the care of a very special family.
I am sure that the thought if giving up these special animals is very difficult, but also, the thought that they will greatly enhance the life and well being of a sight impaired person must also give you a great feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction.
Thank you.
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Old 07-17-2013, 09:16 AM   #36
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Awesome story. Labs are just amazing but I'm prejudiced. Trying not to cry as I read these stories. Part of why I choose to get a lab was becuase I used to see a blind gentleman taking the same train as me with his seeing eye dogs, all of which were labs. I was always facinated with him guiding the blind man out and about in Boston.

Speaking of this man, do you happen to know why he would have different ones after less than a year or so. This man I've seen with about 4 or 5 different dogs over the past 7 years.

My big lug head is 5 months now and about to take his first vacation on the lake. He's going to love it since water is like 2nd nature to him.

And just to throw in a pic of my gatto.
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Old 07-17-2013, 11:30 AM   #37
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Kudos to you guys doing that. I don't think I could handle losing a member of the family like that every year, even looking at the big picture and realizing how much good it does for someone else. It's great that there are people like you out there that are willing to make that sacrifice. I can't imagine it would get easier the more you do it, either. It's a shame that dogs don't live as long as humans--I can guarantee I'm going to have a very hard time (hopefully not for 10-15 years!) when my golden passes.
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Old 04-02-2014, 11:56 AM   #38
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My daughter informed my last night that I have been remiss in my duties by not keeping up with this thread so I will do my best to bring us back up to date on the matter.

We left off last July when Perkins went back to GEB in NY for his formal training. Although he was progressing very nicely in his training, while he was there he developed the habit of protecting his food. He would growl while eating when approached by other dogs and/or his trainers. For this reason alone it was determined in early January that he would be released from the program.

As his puppy raisers we were given the opportunity to take him back as a full time pet. Unfortunately, we are just not the position to take on another dog full time right now so after we made the very painful decision to let him go. If you think it was hard to give him up to the program then just try to imagine what my wife and daughter went through knowing that we could now get him back and keep him forever but in the end had to opt out.

Perkins was placed with a very nice couple from Kentucky that were the lucky ones at the top of the 7 year waiting list. We have traded pictures and stories and continue to stay in touch. As an added bonus it turns out that the woman has a sister right here in Meredith, which she visits every summer. She has promised that when she comes again Perkins will be with her so we will be able to see him again.

Because we are currently in the process of a major renovation to our house my wife and I decided that we would hold off raising another puppy until that project is completed in early summer. That lasted about a month until mid February when she was asked to take on an 8 week old puppy just for one month while they located a full time family for her. Any guesses how that worked out?

Good guess..

I am pleased to introduce Ohio..(we don't name them)..The saga continues.

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Old 04-02-2014, 08:42 PM   #39
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I have to agree that this is the best thread on the forum! What a wonderful, caring woman you have raised. And it sounds like both you and Mrs. Nero have huge hearts and kind souls!
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Old 04-03-2014, 07:23 AM   #40
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KarenM, I just noticed that you are fairly new to posting on the forum and glad you have joined us. Have fun and enjoy the Winni Forum while making many new friends.

Kind words said.

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Old 04-14-2014, 01:22 PM   #41
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At just 4 months old Ohio past her first test and received her training vest yesterday. Its kind of a big thing in the Guiding Eyes world. Now she's official so she has the same rights as a true service dog when out in public. In other words she cannot be denied entry in to stores, restaurants etc while wearing the vest.

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Old 04-14-2014, 01:41 PM   #42
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Our family was a puppy raising family for Guiding Eyes in the 90's. What wonderful rewarding experience. We (mainly my daughter) raised a total of 4 dogs. One of the dogs did not pass the intense guide dog training at Guiding Eyes and was put up for adoption and we were able to adopt her. She was part of our family for 15 years, passing away in 2010. We now have a 5 year old rescued lab.
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