GEB Erie Region

Guiding Eyes for the Blind

Erie Region Puppy Raising Program


Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does a Puppy Raiser do?
A Puppy Raiser provides the foundation from which one half of a successful guide dog team is made. These essential volunteers raise a puppy for about 10-12 months, providing the puppy with the love, socialization and basic obedience it will need to succeed in guide dog training. Puppy Raisers DO NOT directly train the puppy to be a guide dog.

2. What breeds of dog do you use?
Most of our puppies are Labrador Retrievers, although a few Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds are used. The dogs have been selectively bred to enhance their traits of self- confidence, serene disposition, willingness to work, ability to take responsibility, good health, intelligence and initiative.

3. Where do your puppies come from?
All puppies come from Guiding Eyes' own breeding colony located in Patterson, New York. They have been tested for temperament and ability prior to being placed with a Puppy Raiser and only those dogs who indicate an aptitude for guide dog work are placed in our Puppy Raising Program.

4. How old is the puppy when it is placed with a volunteer Puppy Raiser?
Puppies placed are usually 8-9 weeks of age. They have had all their shots but are not housebroken.

5. Do I need to have a large yard to become a Puppy Raiser?
No. A Guiding Eyes puppy is raised as a house dog therefore they will not require a large yard but will require access to outside areas for play, exercise and toileting. You can live in a house, apartment, mobile home or condominium. The most important thing to remember is that at all times when outside the puppy must be supervised and on a leash if in an unfenced area.

6. I have/do not have other pets. Is this a problem?
No. The presence of other animals in the home is fine and is usually quite helpful, but it is not a necessity.

7. What will I be responsible for?
As the raiser, you will be asked to provide food and basic supplies, the costs of which may be tax-deductible. Guiding Eyes assumes responsibility for required medical care of the puppy including regular check-ups and vaccinations. You are also responsible for teaching basic obedience and taking the pup on age appropriate socialization experiences. Classes need to be attended and the quarterly evaluations for the puppy are required.

8. How can you give a puppy up?
Although it is difficult to say farewell to a puppy you have raised, Puppy Raisers take great pride in knowing that they have helped these special dogs to achieve their full potential. The joy of helping someone who needs a guide dog helps compensate for giving up a puppy. How many times will you have the opportunity to help another person find new independence?

9. Is there a minimum age requirement to raise a puppy?
No. We encourage young people to become Puppy Raisers provided they have the support of their family and appropriate adult supervision.

10. How long does it take before a puppy is placed with you?
You will be matched with a puppy once you have fulfilled the pre-placement requirement to properly prepare you for your puppy raising experience. This involves attending local classes where you will be introduced to our organization and taught to a reasonable level of proficiency in our obedience and training methods. Prior to receiving a puppy, you will have the opportunity to "puppy-sit" several dogs. This pre-placement process takes between 3-6 months depending on individual circumstances.

11. Do you get to name your puppy?
No. Our puppies are given names when they are born.

12. What happens to those puppies that do not become guides?
Those dogs that do not meet our stringent criteria for guide work can become detection dogs, search and rescue dogs, therapy dogs, or cherished family pets. Regardless of the career paths our dogs choose, we are immensely proud of each and every one.