Puppy Raising for Guide Dogs Victoria (GDV)
I am currently puppy-raising for Guide Dogs Victoria. My partner and I have welcomed Orinda (born November 03, 2017) into our family, and are caring for her over a 12-15 month period as she prepares for her journey to become a working guide dog. During this time we socialize, and train her for basic commands (sit, wait, stay, down, stand, etc.). Once she was old enough, she began accompanying me everywhere, including: university, grocery shopping, field sampling, cafes and pubs. GDV provides us with a puppy advisor and training workshops to ensure that we properly prepare Orinda for her future work. If you are interested in puppy raising for GDV, please check out the link below.
Orinda was born November 03, 2017 in a litter of 5 puppies to parents Markos and Zenya. Her siblings include Onslow (F), Oregon (M), Oakley (M), and Olwyn (M). Orinda was brought to us at 11 weeks old, delivered by a volunteer from GDV. The volunteer provided us with a binder of information (about everything we could possibly need to know!), which we went over and after an hour, our journey with Orinda began.
After her 16-week puppy class at GDV head quarters, Orinda received her guide dog in training coat. Guide dog jackets allows guide dogs in training in Victoria, training access to any event, business, premise (except operating theatres) or Public Transport with their Puppy Raiser, through the Domestic Animals Act 1994 and the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.
Orinda's first train ride
GDV provides us with a puppy advisor to help us with training and preparing Orinda for her important job ahead. Once a month, or every 6-weeks when she is older, we meet up with the puppy advisor to introduce Orinda to new locations or things. It started off with a busy street with traffic and noisy trucks, to local shops, large grocery stores, stairs, train stations, trams, and large shopping malls. Orinda has been achieving all of her milestones! The last one we have will be taking the train into Melbourne's CBD and taking a walk around the crowded downtown.
Many people ask me when they see Orinda out working with me, if she gets anytime to be a regular dog. The answer is yes! Orinda is out working/training when she is on-lead, with or without her guide dog coat. She needs to learn that when she is on-lead, she needs to be focussed ahead and paying attention to commands. If you do see guide dogs in training out and about, it is best not to distract them by avoiding coming up for pats, offering food, or whistling at them.
However, when she is at home, she gets to be a regular dog, and twice a day I try and take her to an off-lead dog park or beach where she can run, sniff and play with other dogs. She has even had the opportunity to meet up with her brother Oregon, for some fun time at the beach. We also regularly get together with a group of other guide dogs (usually 8-12 other labs) in training for some off-lead playing time once a week.
Official Training Time!
The time has come for Orinda to head back to Guide Dogs Victoria headquarters for official guide dog training with a professional trainer. She will enter a 20-week training program, where she will learn how to guide a visually impaired person safely around the city. We will definitely miss life without Orinda, but wish her the best with her training, and hopefully if she makes it all the way through we will see her on her graduation walk.