Andesa Services EVP Vince Collier and his wife Daphne are volunteer Puppy Raisers for Southeastern Guide Dogs, a nonprofit organization that raises, trains and matches guide dogs with visually impaired people.
Daphne serves as the assistant area coordinator for the Puppy Raiser program in the Sarasota, Fla., area.
Vince and Daphne raise the puppies from roughly nine weeks of age until 12-14 months of age. Their primary responsibilities during that time are to train the puppy in the basic commands that will be needed later when they become a guide dog and to raise a happy, socialized puppy.
Socialization is a major undertaking, as the puppy accompanies the Colliers nearly everywhere they go. The objective is to expose the pup to as many social situations as possible so it grows accustomed to being out in public and familiar with most situations it may encounter when it is working as a guide for a visually impaired person.
At the age of 12-14 months, the puppy is returned to the school where it undergoes four to six months of formal harness training. After harness training, the dog is matched with a visually impaired person – at no cost – through a rigid selection and matching process. The dog and its new master then complete a three-week joint training regimen at the school before they go home together. Pictured is Star, the third puppy the Colliers have raised.
You can learn more about Southeastern Guide Dogs at http://www.guidedogs.org.