Lewis County Families Raise Guide Dog Puppies

Emily Carlton eagerly came to school on April 17 with a few extra items: a green puppy jacket, a leash and a small dog toy. She was ready for the puppy truck from Guide Dogs for the Blind to arrive.

The eighth-grade student knew beforehand that her guide puppy was a male black lab and had a name starting with the letter “S.”

The puppy truck delivery brought another occasion: a reunion of the first guide dog that was raised in the Lewis County Adventist School (LCAS) family in Chehalis.

The whole school family and a few friends were in the lobby as the puppy truck arrived. Doylene Cook, sixth- through eighth-grade teacher, reunited with Necco, a newly retired guide dog who had been raised by Cook's daughter Kelia.

After the reunion came the introduction. The puppy truck representatives brought in a 2-month-old black lab for the official introduction. Students tried guessing the name before meeting Schroeder.

Puppy-raiser families have a group leader who answers questions, organizes training meetings and gives advice in raising guide dogs. The volunteer group leader for the LCAS families visited each classroom to talk with students about three types of guide dogs (black labs, yellow labs and golden retrievers), discuss the tasks guide dogs learn and answer students’ questions.

Raising guide puppies is not a new activity for LCAS families. Schroeder is the sixth guide puppy in five years raised in this school community. Necco worked for three years until his client died. Tallis is guiding in Oklahoma. Oak is guiding in British Columbia, Canada. Takoda is finishing his training, while Wilbur and Schroeder are being raised by LCAS families.

“It is hard work [raising guide puppies], and it is quite sad to have to give them up once we have done our part,” says Carlton, “but it is such an amazing experience to be able to help the blind with a guide to be their eyes. I am proud to be a part of it, and I feel so blessed by what wonderful and intelligent animals God created for us.”

Raising guide puppies not only benefits future clients of Guide Dogs for the Blind but also allows school families to interact with their community, integrate home-school students who want to learn about becoming raisers, and share about Adventist Christian education.

June 16, 2014 / Washington Conference