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Puppies Become Guide Dogs For Blind At Lutherville Training School

LUTHERVILLE, Md. (WJZ)—There is such a demand for guide dogs to help the blind that top training schools have backlogs of two-three years.

Mike Schuh reports on a group of volunteers helping to get more guide dogs working with the blind.

Look, when you’re a good looking puppy you don’t need to do much. But some future guide dogs are preparing to earn their keep. They learn to move with the trainer, move on command and when to not move on command but look.

They’re puppies, and they’ve got a lot of energy waiting to be channeled.

Cindy Lou Altman is just the person to do the channeling.

At 8 weeks, dogs are sent to volunteers who raise the puppies and do basic training and assessment. Not all puppies make the cut.

For the blind, these dogs see, guide and keep them safe.  How noble then to be able to help in that process.

“It was just something I wanted to do. Love dogs, love kids, dogs easier than kids,” Altman said with a laugh.

Here’s something you need to know: someday Altman may help train a dog who will help her.

“I am legally blind,” Altman said. “Have been for 14 years. I can have a guide dog but would rather someone else who needs it have one.”

If her vision gets worse–and it’s expected to–some of what she’s given will no doubt come back to her.

Puppies are given back to the training school at 18 months, and then the clients come in and they face a month of training on how to best use their dogs.

There are 10 certified training schools in the United States.  All of them provide the dogs to their clients for free. Altman is a volunteer with Guiding Eyes for the Blind.  For more information, click here.

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  • Leah C

    I have a Fidos For Freedom across the street from my office. They also do amazing work training hearing and therapy dogs.



  • DeAnna

    Cindy’s a good classmate and a hard working volunteer puppy raiser for GEB! Go team GEB Baltimore!

    Love Dog’s? – Remember to be CHILL around Guide Dogs. These gentle dogs love everyone, when you pet a working dog, their tails start wagging, excitement peaks and they get into “doggie play mode”. When you ask to pet a guide we get them to sit for a greeting.
    Guiding Eyes For the Blind puppy named “Henley Houndy Hound” (he’s on Facebook) was raised in Fells Point Baltimore and had class in Lutherville on Sundays. He’s at the main GEB training center in Yorktown Heights, NY. They have a 2nd property called Canine Development Center it’s a puppy nursery. The guide dog pup’s are born at the CDC in NY, they start training before their eyes are open. Select pup’s get sent all over the East coast to grow up with volunteer “puppy raisers” and once mature they go back to the GEB Training Center for 6 months of intensive training. The Guide dog pup’s actually end up living with their blind partner in a GEB student’s dorm. Blind & Guide dog’s train as a team for 28 days in NY.
    I was at GEB Headquarters July 2011. I got to see first hand the vital steps involved in getting GEB dogs up to graduation status. It’s amazing the love and care that goes into these smart & gentle dogs. They can work for the Blind at about 2 years old after they graduate as a team. Guide Dogs & their blind human partners get to have a heartwarming graduation ceremony. You can only imagine the tears fly at these events. The blind people have been waiting long and work very hard for a Guide dog and a new lease on life. It’s so emotional for all of us to see them go home together. GEB is Non-profit and accepts international blind applicants, so we never know where our puppy will end up in the world but we know our Guide Dogs will be the town favorite! Our GEB puppies grow up and get a blind best friend for life.

    If you love puppies, come see our class and be a puppy sitter. We need city sitters. It’s demanding and so rewarding to be a volunteer for Guiding Eyes for the Blind- Team Baltimore. It takes a community to raise these guide dogs.

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