When Robbin Huls first stepped foot into the Community Room at the Goodwill store in Macedon, she said her eyes started to well up with tears. She was reading ABVI’s mission statement that is on the wall there: To prepare and empower people who are blind or visually impaired to be self-sufficient and contribute to their families and communities.
The emotions came from the synergy between that mission and the one of the organization for which she is a volunteer, Guiding Eyes for the Blind.
Twice a month, Robbin and several others come to the Macedon store with the young puppies they are in the process of training. These dogs are learning the skills that will one day potentially allow them to serve as dog guides for people with vision loss.
Learning to serve
“Get dressed,” Robbin says to her five-month old German Shepperd pup Molly as she holds up a wooden ring. The ring simulates the opening of the harness the dog will wear when in service. Molly, eagerly seeking a treat held in Robin’s closed hand puts her head through the ring, not only getting the treat, but also a loving word of encouragement as rewards.
In addition to getting dressed, the dogs also worked on following commands for backing up. Another training exercise required the dogs to sit inside a Hula Hoop with their tails on the hoop. This was meant help the dogs get used to sitting on varied surfaces, which will happen when they are in service.
At the end, the dogs were given an opportunity for free play.
For more information about Guiding Eyes for the Blind, check out their website at: http://www.guidingeyes.org.