Local teen raises Guiding Eyes puppies, volunteers sought - NEWS10 ABC: Albany, New York News, Weather, Sports

Local teen raises Guiding Eyes puppies, volunteers sought


A local nonprofit group is offering a unique volunteer opportunity for those in the Capital Region: Raising a puppy to become a future guide dog for Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

The volunteers are given an 8-week-old puppy to welcome into their homes, with full support from the nonprofit, including training classes. Raisers love, nurture, and educate the puppies for a 14 to 16 month period before sending them off to their calling as a guide dog for a blind or visually impaired person.

Guiding Eyes provides ongoing puppy raising classes and cover the charges for all veterinarian care. Guiding Eyes provides all services free of charge to the blind and visually impaired around the world.

The nonprofit is actively seeking more people like local teen-raiser, 13-year-old Rowan Schatz, of Bennington, to volunteer.

For someone without sight, a Guiding Eyes dog is a priceless, life-changing gift providing independence, companionship, and mobility. As a young boy, Rowan became immersed in the non-profit and its mission when his parents brought home the family's first pup, Guiding Eyes Ocho.

"My family began raising pups for Guiding Eyes in 2007 when I was just eight years old," explained Rowan. "After helping to successfully raise two guides, I wanted to be responsible for raising one of my own."

The family's third puppy, Flynn, was the first that Rowan took the primary responsibility for raising and training.

Flynn recently headed back to Guiding Eyes' headquarters in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. for formal training and is a potential candidate for July's graduating class.

Volunteers are always invited to attend the graduation ceremony of the dog that they helped to raise, which typically commences approximately six months after the puppy begins formal training. It's during this celebration that the raisers have the opportunity to meet the dog's new partner and truly understand the impact that a guide dog has in the life of a person with vision loss.

For additional information on Guiding Eyes' Puppy Raising Program, call 1-866-GEB-LABS or visit www.guidingeyes.org/volunteer/puppy-raising/

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