By Lillian Busse
Guiding Eyes for the Blind's Northern Conn. Region celebrates the recent graduation of three dogs as guides. Bob, raised by Becky Junco in Granby; Blossom, raised by Betty Goldfarb in Simsbury; and Persia, raised by Angela Cappelli in Granby are generously giving the gift of independence to three blind individuals.
Guide dogs aren’t born with the skills to keep a blind person safe—they are carefully trained and prepared for the job. Guiding Eyes puppy raisers provide hours of patient teaching and numerous socialization journeys. Their hard work paid off when Bob was matched with Jule Ann from Devon, Penn., Blossom, with Kathy from Buffalo, N.Y., and Persia, with Danny from Geneva, N.Y.
For a person without sight, a guide dog can provide life-changing independence. From college to marriage, to the workplace, to kids’ soccer games, Guiding Eyes’ blind clients revel in the sense of normalcy their guide dogs allow them.
Junco said, "I am very proud of Bob, especially proud that he listened, learned and tried hard once he was assigned a Guiding Eyes trainer. I really want to thank his trainer for guiding him to be all he could be."
The Cappelli family said, “We are happy we were able to participate and wish Danny safe travels with his new guide dog and companion. So long, Persia. You helped our family grow and mature and learn what it is to give unconditional love.” Danny, who has Persia, told Cappelli, "This is going to be my shopping and clothing advisor." There is not a lot of public transportation in the area where Danny lives in upstate New York so Persia will get lots of exercise traveling around.
"It takes a village to raise a puppy, "says Goldfarb, who was a puppy starter for Blossom. “Blossom had so many people who loved her, worked with her, and helped her on her journey to become a guide dog. Bloom where you are planted, Blossom.”
Guiding Eyes’ Director of the Puppy Program Linda Damato, notes that, “Without the extraordinary dedication of our puppy raisers, we would simply be unable to provide guide dogs to the blind and visually impaired.”
The nonprofit’s Puppy Raising Program in Connecticut has five regions—Central, Northern, Eastern, Southern and Southwest. Puppy raisers come from all walks of life including couples, families with children, young adults, and senior citizens. Some have forever pets of their own, while others commit to loving and raising a new dog each year. No matter the circumstance, all puppy raisers agree that the program is emotionally rewarding. Raisers live in urban, suburban, and rural areas, in apartments, townhomes, and single-family residences.
Guiding Eyes for the Blind is always needs more puppy raisers. Contact Lillian Busse, regional coordinator at 860-866-7426 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more, or check out our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GEBNCT. Puppy raising classes are held on Monday evenings in Granby and Avon. Please call 1-866-432-LABS or visit www.guidingeyes.org/volunteer/puppy-raising/ for additional information on the Puppy Raising Program.