Five future CNIB Guide Dog puppies recently arrived in Halifax, where they’ll spend the next 12 to15 months in the care of volunteer puppy raisers, getting prepared for their future careers as CNIB Guide Dogs. The pups can be seen training around the Halifax area, wearing their bright yellow Future CNIB Guide Dog vests.
Casey, Dorrie, Jet, Jorge [pronounced HOR-hey] and Trapper – all yellow Labrador retrievers – are CNIB’s first puppies to arrive in Halifax since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Casey is named in tribute to the late Capt. Jennifer Casey, a former journalist and public affairs officer for the Snowbirds, who grew up in the Halifax area; the other four pups were named by generous CNIB Guide Dogs donors (Dorrie by the late Dorothy B. Mackenzie of Halifax; Jet by Janet Greenwood and James Flynn of Toronto; Jorge by an anonymous donor in Halifax; and Trapper by the Britton Smith Foundation).
“Since the first future CNIB Guide Dog puppies arrived in Halifax in January 2018, we’ve typically received our puppies from a top-of-the-line breeder in Australia, but due to ongoing border closures and travel restrictions, we’ve not been able to transport them safely and comfortably to Canada,” says Laura Kennedy, CNIB Guide Dogs’ Apprentice Puppy Raising Supervisor. “Given the shortage of guide dog puppies and the more than 300 per cent increase in demand for CNIB Guide Dog applications, we were thrilled when these five puppies came to us from a breeder in Ontario.”
Each puppy will spend their first year with a volunteer puppy raiser, who’s responsibility is to not only provide them a safe and loving home, but also help prepare them through a supervised obedience and socialization skills program.
Although these five already have homes, more puppies are arriving in the coming months – and CNIB Guide Dogs is looking for additional volunteer puppy raisers in the Halifax area.
“Raising a puppy to become a guide dog for a person who is blind or partially sighted is one of the most impactful volunteer experiences, but it’s also a serious and time-intensive commitment,” says Laura. “A puppy raiser would need to be able to dedicate a significant amount of time to raising a pup – it’s essentially a full-time job. It’s also important that you’re able to attend group training sessions and bring the pup to busy downtown areas, which are both needed for proper socialization.”
By the time the puppies begin formal guide dog training at about 15 months of age, they should be well-behaved in social situations and the home. They should know several basic obedience routines, be comfortable on public transportation and be confident, relaxed and ready for the next stage of their training.
If you think you have what it takes to raise a future guide dog or if you’d like more information, click here to learn more.