SLIDESHOW: Dogs honored for achieving first step in special training

Tanker proudly displayed his medal to his fellow classmates – Taures, Marino, Navy and Mugsy.

The black Labrador puppy was one of six, along with their puppy raisers, from Plateau-based Future Vision club to recently graduate from the American Kennel Club’s S.T.A.R. Puppy training class. Five of the puppies, all less than 1 year old, received their medals at the club’s regular meeting Jan. 5. One of the hard-working recipients was not on hand, having been recently career-changed. They are the first graduating class for the program.

The AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy Program rewards responsible owners who take the time to train and socialize their puppies. S.T.A.R. stands for socialization, training, activity and a responsible owner, all of the things a puppy needs to have a good life.

Members of the Future Vision organization are preparing their dogs for service. The teaching and training the puppies receive from their raisers is the first step on their way into the Guide Dogs for the Blind program.

The six-week training class teaches puppy raisers how to best communicate with their puppy. The classes also provide an opportunity for dogs to socialize with other dogs. Puppy raisers also get their questions to topics like housetraining and chewing answered, as well as picking up the most effective way to teach practical skills like coming when called.

“It not only involved the dogs, but the humans,” club leader Janine Prindle said. The classes also focus on owner, or in this case puppy raiser, responsibilities as well. “The human team has to be responsible for the dog’s care.”

Prindle said the training was a reinforcement for the lessons they were already learning, but being honored by the AKC is a great accomplishment.

To earn their medals, the puppies had to pass the test.

The program is not limited to guide dogs in training.

“Any dog can take this program,” said Prindle, who is a supporter of the AKC. She said her service dog Cranberry is registered with AKC.

Future Vision leaders do plan to participate in the course again.

New puppies arrive in March and Jana Decker is looking for puppy raisers. Future Vision is no longer a 4-H affiliated club, opening the door for more adults who would like to participate in raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. For information, call Decker at 360-802-9858.

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