Apache’s Journey To Guide Dog College

Apache here to talk about my journey to guide dog college.  I’m going to try and keep it short and sweet with some of the basic information.  If you want a more wordy description then just ask my Dad (he likes to talk) to shoot you an email or let him know about any guide dog puppy questions you might have.

My Journey To Guide Dog College

I think I’ll start off with where did I come from?  I’m now a student at Guide Dogs of America (GDA) and this is actually where I started.  We are all born and bred at GDA and after spending about 7 weeks in the nursery we go home with our puppy raisers where we learn basic obedience, socialization, and good house manners from our puppy raisers.

Here’s a picture of me the first day I went home with my puppy raiser:

Apache's First Day

That’s me! Aren’t I adorable. That’s my first day going home with my new puppy raiser

Normally we stay with the same puppy raiser until we are about 18 months old, but I just kept growing and growing and eventually I was too big for my original puppy raiser.

So a little bit before my first birthday I heard that a big, strong, burly, handsome (he made me say all those things) man named Colby would be my new puppy raiser.  That’s us together working on our obedience:

Apache working on obedience

I’m working with Dad on a loose leash heel. Looks like I’m doing pretty good! Picture by Laurel Schuman

My Dad said that my original puppy raiser did an awesome job with my training.  However, he still took me to obedience classes, worked on our manners around the house, and visited many new and interesting places like the Bass Pro Shop:

Apache at the Bass Pro Shop

That’s me, Apache! Just working on a sit-stay next to my Dad.

After working with 2 puppy raisers (Mary and Colby) we got the call that it was almost time to start guide dog college.  So this past Saturday we got in the car and drove to the GDA campus in Sylmar, California to meet up with my first puppy raiser, Mary and to also get me started on the next leg in my journey to become a guide dog.

Guide Dogs of America had a nice luncheon for my puppy raisers and told us what we (the pups) would be doing in the coming months.  Training sounds rigorous, but also fun at the same time.  I can’t wait to get started.  Here’s a good picture of me with my puppy raisers:

Apache with his puppy raisers

That’s my sister Asha! She’s a little bit smaller than me.

After our luncheon and taking a few pictures.  It was time for us to say our farewells.  We all walked down to the kennels.  Dad took me into the kennel, removed my leash and collar, and I got to meet my new roommate, a beautiful female black Labrador Retriever!  However, I still wanted to say goodbye to my puppy raisers and Dad gave me a big hug and told me to be a good boy while I’m at college.

Apache Good Byes

Dad’s giving me a nice long hug before I start college

After Dad and everyone else left.  I played with my new pal Dahlia until we were both exhausted.  She’s my new best friend!

I couldn’t see him, but my Dad said he was going to try to catch a glimpse of some of the future guide dog puppies on his way out.

Future Guide Dog Puppy

This adorable little guy is almost ready to meet his puppy raisers.

Now that I’m at guide dog college I will only be updating by postcard, but Dad says he’ll make sure that you guys hear all about how I’m doing with my training by updating the blog, Facebook, and Twitter accounts so make sure you “like” and subscribe to our social media channels.

I’m going to do my best in college and hopefully with help from GDA’s awesome instructors I’ll be wearing my shiny new harness at graduation soon!

Guide Dogs of America currently has a ton of puppies almost ready to go home with their puppy raisers.  If you’re interested in raising a guide dog puppy and live in Southern or Central California (we also have group in Washington) then please let us know.

I know a lot of you are puppy raisers out there.  Tell us about your experiences on puppy turn in day.

Comments

    • says

      Thanks Alfie! I’m going to do my best at guide dog college. Hopefully I’ll be wearing my shiny new harness at graduation by the end of the year :)

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Apache

  1. says

    We’ve always wondered about the early years of these remarkable dogs. Thanks for the first person…er, puppy account.

    • says

      Hi Jan,

      Dad tries to update about my journey as much as possible throughout the year, but I thought my perspective would be a little bit better than a humans.

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Apache

  2. says

    Hey Apache,

    It was great to hear about your big day directly from you and I’m looking forward to hearing of your future progress too – You’re so awesome, as are your puppy raisers for teaching you how to be such a good boy :)

    I’m so happy you were rewarded with a girlfriend – nice one buddy!! :)

    Wags to all

    Your pal Snoopy :)

    • says

      Hi Snoopy!

      Yep! I’m one lucky dog. She’s my new BFF! I’ll send postcards to let everyone know how I’m doing at college.

      Take care,
      Apache

  3. says

    So Apache, tell us the truth. Did you do this post because Colby was sad at saying goodbye to you? I noticed he wore awfully dark glasses when he dropped you off. :)

    Do good at college. It won’t be long until get to work with your new partner.

    • says

      Hi Pamela,

      Dad is always wearing dark glasses. He says it’s so he will still appear manly when he gets dust in his eyes. I’ll do my best at college!

      Thanks!
      Apache

  4. says

    Apache, we know you’re going to do a great job in college! It must be a lot of hard work. We’ll look forward to hearing updates from you!

    Bunny

    P. S. Does this mean there will be a new puppy at Colby’s house soon?

    • says

      I’m going to study hard at college. Dad says he’s going to just be a puppy sitter for a while, but the puppy department at the school has already asked twice if he’s ready for another puppy. Plus you saw how cute that little guy at the end was…

      Take care,
      Apache

  5. says

    I’ve always wondered this about guide dogs, do they work all the time, or do they get opportunities to ‘cut loose’? ;-)

    • says

      Yeah we get our guide dog puppies when they are 7 weeks old and raise them until they are about 18 months. It’s very tough to return your dog to the school, but you know you’re doing something special for another person. When your puppy graduates and you get to meet his new partner makes it all worth it.

      Take care,
      Colby

    • says

      My Dad says it’s tough, but well worth it in the end. And if I don’t make it as a guide dog my Dad has the first option to adopt me.

      Take care,
      Apache

    • says

      Hi Jen,

      Dad said he’d miss me and that is why he wore dark sunglasses. I’ll send postcards to let you know how I’m doing.

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Colby

  6. Irene says

    Good Luck in Guide Dog College Apache. I’m sure you will be awesome…study hard and make your Dad proud. We will be looking forward to your graduation in a few months!!

    • says

      Hi Irene,

      Thanks! My week is starting out with lots of medical exams, but no guide dog training yet. That starts in a couple weeks. YAY!

      Apache

  7. says

    Wow … you’re all grown up. Musta been hard for Colby to watch you go off to college… but you’ll make him proud … and show everyone how much work has been put in till now. DOG SALUTE WOOF! Bella.

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