Danny is my beautiful golden lab ( he’s half golden retriever/ half yellow lab) and was the last guide dog for the blind puppy I was raising. At 6 months the school found out Danny had bad hips ( guide dogs need to be physically and mentally perfect) and he became my personal pet. Many of you know I was lucky enough to work with two different guide dog schools – Guide Dog Foundation in New York and Southeastern Guide Dogs in Florida, helping raise puppies, help train prison dogs on weekends and now sponsoring a guide dog puppy yearly.
There was a wonderful story on NBC news tonight ( you can’t help but love Brian Williams!) about Puppies Behind Bars where prisoners raise and train guide dogs and service dogs. As I always do when I see or read about these service dogs, I start to get weepy because I know how much these dogs will change a person’s life. My dear friends with Marriott- CJ and Bev Jensen are the ones who got me started with raising puppies ( they are on their 13th puppy- their goal is to raise 26- naming each one thru the alphabet) and we had one Marriott team meeting where three of us had a guide dog puppy we were training!
Guide dog schools around the country have evoloved. It used to be that if a guide dog puppy didn’t make it as a guide dog for the blind ( they called it a change in careers) they would become someone’s personal pet. That’s how Danny became my pet. But now, guide dogs who don’t make are used in a wide variety of other service dog roles. The story on NBC news tonight was two fold- one talking about how prisoners are raising the puppies, but also how soldiers coming back and having stress problems are receiving one of these dogs as therapy dogs. They are also sending these service dogs over to Iraq to help the soldiers cope with the stress of war. One of CJ’s dogs is now serving in Iraq…. helping these soldiers handle everything they are dealing with.
Every year Mermaid Cottages sponsors a guide dog puppy. Go to the Fun Stuff portion of the website and read about my two last dogs. The next puppy I’ll be sponsoring will be named after Tony Petrea, Jr, a fine young man who lived and worked on Tybee and died far too young earlier this year. The puppy will be born in one of the August litters and we’ll keep everyone posted on the puppy and details!