Making Friends and Building Relationships

Most all of the Guide Dog Schools in the United States are non-profit organizations taking on the business of breeding and training Guide Dogs for the seeing impaired. They breed their own dogs so that they can know with some certainty what the end product will be. The dogs are bred at the school and pups are whelped there. But they depend on volunteer puppy raisers to foster those pups for at least a year. In their homes, away from the kennels. They do this so that the pups can experience home life with humans and learn to make bonding connections with those humans. That’s extremely important for a Guide Dog who ultimately will be taking a blind person’s life in their capable 4 paws. They will need to REALLY care about that person. That person who will be trusting their lives to that dog.

Bonding is “a relationship that establishes a basis for ongoing mutual attachment.” But wait a minute! “Ongoing mutual attachment.” Ongoing. Forever. So why would the school want their pups to BOND with a human family that will only be in that pup’s life for 1 year?! And then BOND with a blind person with the same “mutual attachment?” It can be a problem.

If a dog is to become a working Guide Dog, he/she must be able to switch allegiances. And not only from family to blind handler. But,

from Mom

to Family

to Trainer

then to Blind Person.

Whew! A lot of dogs can’t do that. Those emotional ties are difficult to sever. Becoming a working dog requires a lot. Most Guide Dog schools have discovered that Labrador Retrievers are more capable than other breeds of making those transitions successfully. Labs tend to love just about everybody.

Stephen is learning about bonding. Forging meaningful relationships. He’s meeting lots of folks who are showing him how fantastic Humans can be. And he’s learning to get along with other beings as well. He’s also learning about transitions, spending time with other folks besides me. He’s happy wherever he is no matter who he’s with. He takes it all in stride – making friends wherever he goes.

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Well, maybe not quite with everyone –

He hasn’t quite learned to speak CAT.

But his Heart is BIG and it will come!

Happy Days to you and yours!

 

 

 

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