Community

Senior project presentation provides guide dog information

Volunteers like Austin Schuver and guide dog candidates like McKinley spend months together. - Photo courtesy Kristin Schuver
Volunteers like Austin Schuver and guide dog candidates like McKinley spend months together.
— image credit: Photo courtesy Kristin Schuver

Enumclaw High School seniors Nicole Roark and Jennifer Decker brought their computer presentation and their yellow Labrador retriever puppies to the Enumclaw School Board’s April 20 meeting.

The two are part of Enumclaw’s Future Vision Club, which in turn is part of the nonprofit organization Guide Dogs for the Blind. They were at the meeting presenting information about the guide dog program as part of their senior project and to recognize the beginning of National Volunteer Week.

Roark and Decker noted the Plateau has raised more than 207 puppies and is currently raising more.

Guide dogs provide enhanced mobility for the vision impaired.

Roark and Decker explained the process of raising a guide dog puppy for the audience.

The “puppy truck” arrives from Boring, Ore., with a load of 8- to 10-week-old Labrador retrievers, which will be assigned to a club member’s family. The family makes a commitment to raise the puppy until it is about 12 to 16 months old.

Puppy raisers house train the pups, teach them basic obedience and good manners, and above all, socialize them to the world. Raisers expose the puppies to all kinds of sights, sounds and smells like grocery stores, restaurants, Enumclaw High basketball games and many were in attendance at the school board’s meeting.

After they are raised to a certain point, they return to Oregon for approximately five months in formal guidework training with professional licensed instructors. They are matched with a blind person to finish their training and see if they “match” compatitbility-wise.

Their Plateau raisers get to come and see the graduation and meet the new partner and then gift their dog.

Reach Brenda Sexton at bsexton@courierherald.com or 360-802-8206.

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