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One of the great things about being a part of Guide Dogs of America is having access to a vast amount of puppy/dog knowledge. There are so many knowledgeable people in our Orange County Guide Dogs of America group that anytime I have a puppy/dog question I can just talk to people at our group meeting and I always get great and informed answers. Some of the people in our group have raised 10+ GDA puppies!
Stetson’s Career Change
When a guide dog puppy in training gets dropped from the guide dog program they are said to be “career changed”. When I received the call that Stetson was going to be career changed I was taken by surprise, but I always wanted to get Stetson involved as a Therapy dog if he didn’t make it as a Guide dog.
However, there are many other options for your puppy if they do not make it as a Guide dog. One of our GDA group members mentioned to me that Stetson could enter another program called Canine Support Teams.
Here’s a photo of Stetson and Derby under my desk at the office. It looks like Stetson’s enjoying his interim career of sleeping under my desk…Derby likes wedging his head between things when he goes to sleep.
Canine Support Teams
If Stetson were to enter the Canine Support Teams program he could become a service dog for the disabled. He would be trained by either their staff or through their Prison Pup program which serves a dual purpose in rehabilitating a human as well as servicing a human.
Here’s a little excerpt from the Canine Support Teams About page:
Service dogs are placed with people who use wheelchairs, walkers, crutches or canes. They are taught to assist their partners by pulling manual wheelchairs, turning lights on and off, pushing elevator buttons, retrieving dropped or hard to reach items, making purchases or banking transactions, opening and closing doors and drawers, barking to get help and providing stability for walking. In addition, these dogs help to serve as an ice-breaker in public situations and provide constant companionship for their partners. Assisted Service work for individuals who can manage their dogs with help from another person, caregiver or attendant. Assisted Service have all the skills associated with Service Dogs.
Prison Pup Program
The Canine Support Team Prison Pup Program sounded very interesting to me so I took a look at their website. The partnership was formed with the California Institution for women to help inmates contribute to society and to provide more service dogs for people in need.
During the Prison Pup Program Canine Support Teams hold puppy class weekly. During class the instructors work with the inmates on:
- General obedience
- Advanced task work and training techniques
Some inmates are selected for special duties such as:
- First aid
- Mentorship based on their special talents and dedication in class.
Stetson’s Career Change
My goal for Stetson remains the same. Now that he will not be a guide dog I want to get him involved as a Therapy Dog. Unfortunately, at our last group meeting I did not get a chance to talk to other’s in our group about their therapy dogs.
We have more information about career change opportunities listed on the Orange County Guide Dogs of America website. If you are interested in Canine Support Teams please visit their website at http://www.caninesupporteams.org.