(Photo Courtesy of Guide Dogs for the Blind)
ZOOM GOES TO THE DOGS DURING SHELTER-IN-PLACE AS GUIDE DOGS FOR THE BLIND KEEPS CANINES, HUMANS CONNECTED
-- Pandemic Shifts Puppy Club Meetings, Volunteer Support Online --
By this stage of the COVID-19 Pandemic, many working Americans are familiar with the Brady Bunch-esque gallery presentation of online meeting tools like Zoom, showing multiple images of their colleagues sheltering in place in their homes. But Guide Dogs for the Blind has unleashed several innovative ways these tools can be used with its puppies-in-training and their volunteer puppy raisers, finding practically anything is paw-sible online.
After shelter-in-place orders were issued in many states, Guide Dogs for the Blind began working with its puppy-raising clubs throughout 10 western states to help them move their regular meetings online. The clubs, which are all led by volunteers and overseen by GDB field staff members, provide a structure and framework for teaching puppies foundational skills, and meet regularly to exchange ideas and work on training techniques. Puppy raisers are responsible for teaching guide dog puppies good manners and providing socialization experiences for approximately a year of the pups’ lives. Soon, GDB experts had adapted to meet the needs of raisers and pups online, with some dogs even seemingly enjoying being onscreen.
While dog-focused meetings online can sometimes be a little ruff around the edges, GDB has also managed puppy evaluations with its field staff online and is currently providing support services to its more than 2,100 guide dog teams across the U.S. and Canada via video chat and other online meeting tools.
About Guide Dogs for the Blind
Headquartered in San Rafael, Calif., Guide Dogs for the Blind is more than an industry-leading guide dog school; it is a passionate community that serves the visually impaired. Guide Dogs for the Blind prepares highly qualified guide dogs to serve and empower individuals who are blind or visually impaired. All of its services are provided free of charge. Guide Dogs for the Blind receives no government funding. More than 15,000 guide teams have graduated from Guide Dogs for the Blind since it was founded in 1942. The organization was the subject of an award-winning 2018 feature-length documentary called Pick of the Litter, which was developed into a television docu-series by the same name that had its debut in late 2019 on the streaming service Disney +. For more information on Guide Dogs for the Blind, visit guidedogs.com.