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1. What is 4-H and do I have to join?
The Seeing Eye Puppy Raising Program, started in 1942, as a joint effort of The Seeing Eye, Inc., and the 4-H Youth Development Program. Participants are children from 9 to 19 years of age and adults. When you join the puppy-raising program, you are joining 4-H whatever type of club is offered in your county - either independent or 4-H. You can choose to take advantage of the benefits of the 4-H program in your area or focus only on the puppy-raising program. Families are asked to complete and return an application and continue to attend club meetings and activities while awaiting their pup.
2. I'm an adult. Can I raise a puppy, and do I have to attend the meetings?
Yes, we accept adult applications and we request that you, too, attend the 4-H puppy club meetings to help socialize the puppy. Meetings are also an opportunity for the puppy to be worked by one of the younger members, to help expose the puppy to children. The club meetings are essential to the puppy-raising process.
3. How old will the puppy be when I get him or her?
Your puppy will be between 7 and 8 weeks of age.
4. Do I need to go to the Seeing Eye to pick up my puppy?
A representative of The Seeing Eye called an Area Coordinator will call you and make arrangements to deliver the puppy to your home. At that time, the Coordinator will spend approximately an hour and a half explaining the details of raising a puppy for The Seeing Eye.
5. What if the puppy needs veterinary care?
If you have a family veterinarian, you may continue to use that practice. If you are unfamiliar with a veterinarian in your area, your Area Coordinator or puppy club leader can suggest one. The Seeing Eye will cover all the pup’s veterinary costs.
6. Who is responsible for the puppy’s food?
Your Area Coordinator will give you an initial eight-pound bag of puppy food. We suggest you purchase the same brand in 40-pound bags at local feed stores. The Seeing Eye provides a stipend to help defray the cost of food.
7. What is the most important role of the puppy raiser?
You need to show your puppy as much of the outside world as you can so the puppy can become accustomed to its future work environment. Puppies need to be exposed to things such as car travel, sounds, sudden noises, animals, crowds, slippery floors, stairs and stores so that they will not be intimidated by these things as Seeing Eye dogs.
8. Can we take the puppies everywhere, since they are going to be Seeing Eye dogs?
Although working Seeing Eye dogs are allowed access to all public places, Seeing Eye puppies in training are not. You will need to check with managers or owners before visiting a public place to make sure it is okay. We don’t encourage taking puppies to food stores and restaurants.
9. When can I start taking my puppy places?
Early exposure is essential and a guide line will be given to you and gone over with by your area coordinator of where and when your pup can start venturing out in the big world.
10. We have other pets in the house. Can we still raise a Seeing Eye puppy?
Yes, in fact this is good exposure for the puppy. If you have another puppy in your house, it must be at least 5 to 6 months old before we will place a Seeing Eye puppy in your home.
11. Is it difficult to give the puppy back for training?
Yes, it is. But knowing that you are raising your puppy to enhance a blind person’s independence makes it worth the effort. If you do a good job with your puppy, you can raise another one, which will help to minimize the sense of loss you may feel when your dog returns to The Seeing Eye.
12. How old will my dog be when he or she returns to The Seeing Eye for training?
Your dog will be anywhere between 14 and 18 months.
13. What happens when my dog returns to The Seeing Eye?
The dog will have a period of adjustment to the kennel. During this time, the dog will be X-rayed and given a health check. The dog will then be assigned to a professional instructor. Over the next four months, the dog will learn to be a Seeing Eye dog. At the end of the training period, you will be invited to watch your dog walk through town with the instructor. Once the dog is matched with a person, you will receive a letter from The Seeing Eye telling you what state the person and dog live in, and a little information about the person. In order to respect the privacy of the dog’s new owner, you will not find out the name of the person who has the dog you raised.
14. What happens if my dog does not become a Seeing Eye dog?
You will be asked if you would like the dog as a family pet. If you do not, The Seeing Eye will place the dog with a family looking to adopt a dog. Some dogs are adopted by law enforcement agencies so they can maintain their roles as service dogs.
15. Who is eligible for the Seeing Eye Scholarship Program?
Any senior in high school who has raised at least two puppies for The Seeing Eye, one of which was raised during the junior or senior year, and who has fulfilled the criteria and obligations in raising the pups. The $1,000 scholarship goes to the college of the recipient's choice.