September 30, 2009
We have an incredible service learning opportunity at Rachel Carson. I have been attending training meetings to become a Guide Dog Puppy Raiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind. Guide Dogs for the Blind provides enhanced mobility to qualified individuals through partnership with dogs whose unique skills are developed and nurtured by dedicated volunteers and a professional staff.
I will have an opportunity to raise a female labordor retriever who is currently being raised by our club’s leader and is about 8 months old. Before she comes to live at my house and while she is there I will also have the opportunity to puppy sit other labs who are at different stages of their training and are from 2 months old to 18 months old. I will only have one puppy at a time!
These puppies have very strict training procedures and routines and will be able to socialize with students, but the puppy I bring to school will spend much of his/her day up by my desk. Guide Dog Puppies are typically very quiet and calm, so I am not concerned that our learning will be interupted. I will be training a few of my 8th graders to take the puppy on a relieving break between classes when necessary.
After puppies are trained (around 12 to 18 months old) the puppy will be called back to the Guide Dog Campus for further training. It is there that they are carefully matched with a blind partner. A graduation ceremony will follow where I (and interested students and families) will be able to meet our Guide Dog’s new partner. This is the equivalent to coming back to our SOLV site a year later to see our native plants thriving, reed canary grass receeding, and the clear areas where himalayan blackberries once grew growing native plants.
I believe this is an incredible opportunity for our students to do community service in a different facet than we currently offer. This can grow to become a bigger interaction with students as we become more familiar with Guide Dogs in the classroom. Please sign below stating that you have received this letter and read it. If you have any questions or comments, please include those as well. Please return this signed letter to your child’s IS teacher before October 6, 2009.