When you step into the Wabash practice, you might see a sweet-natured black Labrador retriever. Daisy loves being with her puppy raiser, Dr. Lindsay Culver, and the staff at the Wabash practice. She is currently going through a rigorous year-long training process so she can potentially guide someone who is blind or visually impaired.
The Vital Training Step of Socialization
Socialization is a vital step in the training process for Daisy and other future leader dogs. This involves trips to the store and other public places with crowds like sporting events, parks, and downtown where traffic is heavier. Puppy raisers record all of the places they take their future leader dogs and meet with a puppy counselor once every month. As you can imagine, COVID has impacted that part of the training process. Throughout this time, Dr. Culver has been meeting with Daisy’s counselor via Zoom and with socialization being more difficult to achieve, her time raising Daisy has been extended by several months.
One of Daisy’s favorite socialization activities is boating. She went on vacation with the Culver family, and although she does not enjoy swimming, she spent a lot of time riding on their boat. She also visited Chicago, which was a bit challenging because of the other dogs out walking with their owners. Daisy likes to go grocery shopping as well.
Advice for Puppy Raisers
Each puppy raiser is given a manual from Leader Dogs for the Blind with a plethora of information on how to care for the dog, development milestones, tips and tricks, health information, and more. If there is any advice she could give someone interested in puppy raising, it would be to read through the manual because it provides so much useful information. She also said, “Make sure you have the time. Plan ahead to be sure the dog can go with you to the places you frequent.”
Daisy goes into the exam room with Dr. Culver when she is seeing a patient who is familiar with Daisy or the Leader Dogs for the Blind program. Daisy still gets excited when she meets someone new, but she is very well behaved. All it takes is one command and she calms down quickly.
What Does Daisy Have Left to Learn?
Daisy celebrated her first birthday over Labor Day weekend, and she is getting closer and closer to going back to Leader Dogs for the Blind to enter the next phase of training. She still gets excited around other dogs, so Dr. Culver has changed how Daisy walks by using a soft muzzle collar. It has had a huge impact on Daisy walking better with a leash and has helped her calm down when she sees other dogs out walking as well.
When asked if she would go through the puppy raising process again, Dr. Culver said, “Yes, absolutely. It has been a fun and rewarding experience. The most rewarding part will be when she is placed with her ‘person’. Our family loves watching her progress and learn.”
Both Midwest Eye Consultants staff and doctors have been getting involved in the puppy raising program. We’re also excited that Indiana is now the second-highest state with active working guide dog teams. You can make a huge impact on someone’s life by giving them their independence back. Become a puppy raiser for Leader Dogs for the Blind! Learn more about this program here.