In a wonderful, wide-ranging interview with guest host Lee (Flee) Courtney, Jan Williams—Southeastern Guide Dogs’ Area Coordinator for Puppy Raisers in Tampa—discusses the enormous array of challenges and rewards involved with raising a puppy to become a guide dog for a visually-impaired individual.
She explains the sorts of behavior and restraint the puppy raisers are expected to cultivate, including honing the dogs’ crucial ability to do their business anywhere, on any surface, on command—a skill, Williams notes, that takes on extra significance when the dog and the handler are traveling by airplane, laying over in airports before catching connecting flights., etc. Williams also addresses a whole host of other experiences the dog must be exposed to while with its puppy raiser, and must perform and react with perfection in that phase of the dog’s life, as well as the post-puppy phase where it undergoes very intense training to travel all the way through the process and become a guide dog. Interestingly, she points out that these canine graduates also need to be sophisticated to occasionally do a situational override of that training—like at a street corner, the handler gives the command to cross, yet the dog recognizes a hazard the handler didn’t, and refuses to advance. She outlines the myriad virtues and satisfactions of being a puppy raiser—she’s raised several herself, and carried out the conversation with an aspiring Guide Dog, a yellow lab named Bruelle, at her feet. (www.guidedogs.org www.facebook.com/pages/Southeastern-Guide-Dogs/92490953062)
COMEDY CORNER: Tig Notaro’s “Shark Attack” (http://tignation.com)
MUSIC: John Williams’ “Theme From Jaws,” Split Enz’s “Shark Attack,” The Rolling Stones’ “The Spider & The Fly”
NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: The Rolling Stones’ version of “Little Red Rooster”
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