Submitted By Jeff Chandler
As high school seniors across the city of San Antonio crossed the stage this May, donning their caps and gowns, a Labrador Retriever named Poet also celebrated his graduation day. Local Stone Oak residents, Barbara and Jeff Chandler, contributed time and love in raising Poet, a puppy for Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB), and proudly watched the dog graduate as a guide in a formal ceremony at the GDB campus in San Rafael, CA on May 27, 2017. The Chandler’s presented Poet to graduating student Brett Shishkoff.
Barbara and Jeff are the leaders of the local GDB Puppy Raising Club, Lone Star Guide Dog Raisers San Antonio. The club is currently raising eight puppies-in-training ranging in age from 10 weeks to 12 months old. GDB uses the following breeds: yellow and black Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Lab/Golden Crosses. The puppies are born at GDB’s headquarters in San Rafael and then placed in the homes of volunteer puppy raisers when they are about two months old. Puppy raisers are responsible for teaching their puppies good manners and basic obedience, as well as introducing them to new experiences.
The pups then return to GDB for formal guide work training when they are about 15 to 17 months old. Following the completion of training, the dogs are matched with someone who is blind or visually impaired. The new guide dog team then completes an intensive two-week course culminating with a graduation ceremony at which the puppy raiser formally presents the dog to its new handler. All of the GDB graduations are open to the public.
GDB is more than an industry leading Guide Dog School; they are a passionate community that serves the visually impaired. With exceptional client services and a robust network of trainers, puppy raisers, donors, and volunteers, GDB prepares highly qualified guide dogs to serve and empower individuals who are blind or have low vision. All of their services are provided free of charge; they receive no government funding. GDB is headquartered in San Rafael, California, with a second campus in Boring, Oregon. More than 14,000 teams have graduated since its founding in 1942, and there are approximately 2,200 active teams in the field. If you know someone who could benefit from their services, please let them know about this program. To get involved, contact GDB at 800-295-4050 or visit www.guidedogs.com.