Sunday, February 5, 2012

Training makes perfect!

Puppy raisers for Southeastern are volunteers who provide foster homes to young puppies destined to become a guide dog. We are responsible to provide training and socialization, so the puppies become comfortable with home life, learn basic obedience, and begin to experience the world. Southeastern Guide Dogs equips their puppy raiser families with training materials and support, along with an area coordinator who guides and mentors them, sharing the goal of raising a successful guide dog.

Jen Gerrity, a trainer from Southeastern Guide Dogs, Inc in Palmetto, FL made a field trip out to Houston on Jan 29th to meet with the Houston puppy raiser group. Jen works in the Puppy Raising Services Department at Southeastern. She is a BIG help to volunteer raisers when training problems arise.

This was our first time to meet Jen, although we have corresponded with her via email on a couple of occasions. We were very impressed with her passion for the pups, her enthusiasm, her encouragement and her training experience. Jen taught us ways to set the dogs up to be successful when giving commands.  We learned alot in this session!

Smokey gets to know Jen by smelling her. 
Jen says a pup sees the world through it's nose.

"Smokey, SIT!"
"Gooooooood  boy!"

While Jen addresses the group, Smokey demonstrates the "Down" "Stay" command.  "Gooooood boy!"

Jen checking out Smokey's leash manners.
"Smokey, FORWARD"
"Gooooood boy!"

"Smokey, COME!"
"Goooooooood boy!"

Jen's enthusiasm for the pups shows in her exuberant praise when they perform obediently.   The pups respond in tune, giving her their full attention; faces beaming, tails wagging, excited and happy with themselves to have pleased her.  It seemed so easy when she worked the pups!  

Next came time for the raisers to work their pups while Jen observed.
Here, Lauren is working with pup Suzette (who happens to be Smokey's sister).

Girl scout Ellie with pup Addy. Looking good!

Jen gives Meredith a few pointers for working with 7 month old Golden retriever pup Tulip.

Jenni with her easy going Lab pup named Lou-Lou

Golden Retriever pup Jane enthusiastically demonstrates the COME command!! (Shown here with co-raiser Chris)

And introducing our group's newest puppy - a male yellow lab named Jib!

Susan taking her very first walk with her new puppy, Jib.

Jen demonstrates the proper way to work with the little pups, pictured here with Payten. Payten is being raised by husband and wife team Sue and Steve.

This is our one and only chocolate Lab puppy named Hershey. Her raiser is Wendy.

Cindy with her new pup, Gumpy.  Gumpy is Cindy's grand-dog
Cindy raised Gumpy's dad, a Lab named Sparky. How cool is that?

Girl scout Gaby, with her new pup named Lou.

As I was looking over my photos from the day, I found this one of Hannah.  Seems she was having a lot of fun rolling around in the grass. We had puppy camp with Hannah when she was just 5 months old, so we have a special affection for Hannah!  Hannah is being raised by Carol and Bob. Carol is our area coordinator.

...And Hannah is such a gentle tolerant of new puppy Jib.

Jib and Gumpy - trying to show who's boss!

While we haven't yet been to the school, Jen's representation of the trainers at Southeastern prove to us first hand that pups raised in all locations will be given the best chance to succeed in their program. Southeastern's mission is to create and nurture a partnership between a visually impaired individual and a guide dog, facilitating life's journey with mobility, independence and dignity.

We thank you, Jen, for taking the time to come and work with us here in Houston!

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