Hello Bob, Thank you so much for the honor of speaking to everyone here. We all have so much in common as we share a love for dogs and have a deep appreciation for their abilities. I trained with my first dog guide in the summer of 1978 at the Seeing Eye. After several different problems I wondered if I was ever going to have a dog that worked longer then three years. Although I mainly trained at the Seeing Eye I did attend two other schools when the Seeing Eye's waiting list was too long. I had the pleasure of talking with many of our wonderful different schools to find out all about there training programs and what set each of them a part from the other. It was so interesting to say the least. In 1986 I had a rare opportunity to attend a dog training program located in a small town in West Virginia. This program had nothing to do with training service animals, but spent a lot of time on obedience puppy all the way through advanced along with other work such as narcotics, personal protection, and a sport called shutsand. I am sure that I have spelled that wrong. haha! I Believe that the most valuable skill I was taught was dog evaluation. I learned how to watch a litter of puppies and learn about each one just by watching how they play with each other and how they interacted with people as well. It was so much fun. After taking this two month class the real learning began. I taught on my own for a year and then I returned to the school I learned from and taught there for a while. I loved it, but I really did learn that people are harder to teach then the dogs. haha! Through my years as a trainer I have met so many wonderful people and there dogs. I was blessed to have some amazing experiences like working with some wolves along with several very spirited tariers who were owned by an ophthalmologist. I loved working with people one to one as it gave me a lot of time to help them to understand there perticular dogs personality. Knowing this really goes a very long way to making the training effort a big success. I love helping people to learn to understand their dogs. Isn't this what our dog guide instructors try to do for us when they match us up with one of their wonderful animals? They spend that nearly 2 weeks or three weeks or four weeks helping us to understand our new friend. This only serves to strengthen our relationship with our dogs. I live in a small town in New Jersey now and one of the first things I realized is that I could now raise puppies for the Seeing Eye. My daughter was the primary raiser for our first three and I am now the primary for our last two. I have a wonderful mail shepherd who will be 4 months old on the 7th of april. He is wonderful and I pray that he makes it through the program and becomes someone wonderful guide. Yes, it will be hard to say good-by to him, but I know just how it has ment to me to have someone give there heart to one of my dogs just to say good-by to him so I could have greater independance through the use of a dog guide. I am aware that not everyone wants adog for his or her guide, but , for me I am praying that I can work with a dog for as long as possible. In closing I will share that my guides and I have gotten to do quite a bit of traveling and that has been quite an experience. Valor and I just came home from a trip to Costa Rica and a 5 night cruise to Mexico and it was wonderful. Of corse Valor was the most popular one on the ship. The most asked question I was asked was where does my dog go to the bathroom? I will share several of the answers I had for that along with other stories as time permits. Again Bob, thanks for allowing me to do something I enjoy very much. That would be to run my mouth about a topic I love. Our beloved guides and the fun we have with them. Here is my contact information. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my iPhone number is 908-329-5135. Again, Thanks very much.
Presenter: Vickie Curley