We had our big grand opening party the day after the puppies came. It was a huge deal, with the Governor of Delaware in attendance (she said she was promised some puppy-holding time, and who could resist that!)
Barbara and Randy worked their butts off for this, and did a wonderful job. The local newspapers were there, as was Channel 7, WMDT. (Once I figure out how to get the video off of my DVR and onto a CD, I'll post the news story). Here's a bit of the story from the Milford Beacon:
It was a smashing success; it also was a last hurrah for Pat Clark, who has retired. I was happy to be able to give her a big hug and a thank you for picking out Fina for us.
Guiding Eyes for the Blind Delmarva Puppy Raising Region off to a great start
By Jennifer Robinson
Barbara Byle, the regional coordinator for Delmarva, has been busy setting the foundation for Guiding Eyes’ Puppy Raising Program.
The focus for the past few weeks has been for six new puppy raisers to attend pre-placement classes at Byle’s home.
“They’ve come every week for two hours for our pre-placement classes,” Byle said.
In addition, Byle has been visiting the homes of each of the puppy raisers to ensure that it is safe for their new arrival. The puppies are already equipped with kennels and supplies, thanks to a generous donation from All-Span Inc.
“I go there to help determine the best way to keep their puppy safe in their home because every home is different,” Byle said.
Kramer, the Labrador puppy that Byle is raising has also been a vital part of the training. He will remain with the couple for 14 to 16 months so they can teach him basic obedience and good manners.
“He’s doing really well,” Byle said. “He’s been the puppy we’ve used in classes and he makes me look good every time.”
Soon however, Kramer will be joined by his sister, Karleen, and two other puppies from the Bay Region, as well as Byle’s Labradors, Faulkner and Promise, for the training. One dog will be placed with each of the puppy raisers so they can sit for it and truly get a feel for the adventure they are about to embark on.
“Everybody wants to take Kramer home, but unfortunately we only have one Kramer,” Byle said. “It really is to give them a chance to see what it is with the commitment they’re going to make. It’s all to help them make an informed decision because it’s not your typical volunteer job.”
An opening ceremony will be held for the Guiding Eyes for the Blind Delmarva Puppy Raising Region at 1:30 p.m. on Friday, April 4, at Bicentennial Park. If weather prohibits the ceremony from being held at Bicentennial Park, it will be held in the banquet room of Smith & Co. Restaurant. Five of the six puppy raisers will receive their puppies there. Sen. Gary Simpson has accepted an invitation to the ceremony, and commissioners from Kent and Sussex County and the Milford City Council have also been asked to join in the event.
“What we are doing is welcoming Guiding Eyes to the Delmarva Region,” Byle said.
Classes will continue the first and third Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Bicentennial Park. Anyone interested in becoming a puppy raiser or becoming involved in the effort is asked to come out.
“People are welcome to come out and observe,” Byle said.
Those interested in the program should have a love for animals, high energy and be able to attend class twice a month. Potential candidates should also be able to provide a loving home. Guiding Eyes pays for all veterinary care, and the puppy raiser is responsible for food and any toys. The next series of pre-placement classes will begin in June.
“We encourage anyone interested in puppy raising to fill out an application online and attend those classes,” Byle said.
Those interested in helping may volunteer in a variety of other ways if not as a puppy raiser. Other opportunities include becoming a puppy sitter, helping with fund-raising, public relations, presentations for community awareness, recruitment, sponsorship, or by working as helpers or instructors in class. Volunteers are also needed to help find sites for classes and quarterly evaluations, as well as those to help track vests that designate the puppies as dogs in training. They are also in need of sponsoring vets. Haven Lake of Milford, is a sponsor for Kramer as well as one of the new puppies.
After the puppies complete their time with their raisers, they will return to New York for Infortraining. If they pass, they will then go on to more formal training to become a guide dog.
Dogs that do not make it as a guide dog do have other opportunities to work either through ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) for arson and bomb detection or for a new program through Guiding Eyes for autistic children.
For more information on the Guiding Eyes for the Blind Delmarva Puppy Raising Region, call Byle at 422-3522 or visit www.volunteer.guidingeyes.org.
“People are welcome to join us,” Byle said.
I'll just post some pictures from the event..
And finally, exhaustion after her big day!