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Bruin-raised Guide Dog takes step toward graduation

Senior Madison Templeton poses with her Guide Dogs for the Blind puppy Frosty after golf practice. Photo by Kalei Owen

Last Saturday, one of Bear River’s furry faces returned to the Guide Dogs for the Blind (GD) headquarters. Frosty, who was co-raised by Sophomore Lexi Templeton and Senior Madison Templeton, will now go through seven pass-or-fail stages of training.

Frosty has been with the Templetons since January of 2018.

“I got Frosty when he was 8 weeks old in January, and had him till March, so around 14 months,” said Madison Templeton.  

Lexi Templeton was motivated to raise a GD puppy because of what it would do in the future.

“I decide to raise [a Guide Dog] because I love the fact that he is going to help someone and change their life,” she said.

Her sister felt similarly.

“I decided to raise a Guide Dog after I did a lot of puppy-sitting at school so I really knew what I would be doing,” said Madison Templeton. “One of my friends raised a dog, and I saw the huge impact it can make on someone else’s life. I wanted to help someone and thought this would be a great opportunity to give back.”

Bear River GD Club Leader Sue Perrone analyzed the next steps in the process of Frosty becoming a full-fledged Guide Dog for the Blind.

“Now that Frosty is back at the GD campus, he will be given a roommate, and undergo a extensive physical after he is deemed healthy for Guide work,” she said. “He will be put in a string of eight dogs, and will start his training…  This consists of seven phases, and each phase takes about two to three weeks depending on the dog. If he meets all his goals, he will be paired up with a blind person, and they will train together for two weeks. If they work well together, Frosty will graduate and become a working Guide.”

Lexi Templeton added to what Mrs. Perrone said.

“If he fails, he’ll either be returned to me or put up for adoption, but if he succeeds, after one year of training he’ll go on to help someone in need,” she said.

Mrs. Perrone commented on what the commitments are to raising a Guide Dog puppy.

“It takes a 13-16 month commitment, first of all, and that’s 24 hours a day, every day,” she said. “So a puppy raiser has to be willing to make that commitment, and they need the support of their family and club because you can’t do it alone. You must attend all the meetings, both outings and weekly training meetings. Guide Dogs has a very strict format for their puppies, and you must keep up with the training on a daily basis. As the puppy gets older, the expectations are higher and the raiser learns many different ways to solve training problems.”

Apart from the difficulties, she also highlighted the rewards.

“Its very rewarding to go through the process, and I think whether you raise a graduate or not you come out of each puppy raising experience with life lessons,” Mrs. Perrone said.

Both Templetons emphasized the need for patience as a key character trait of a puppy raiser.

“It takes patience, time, long days and nights, and willingness to take time out of your day for the dog,” said Lexi Templeton.

“It takes a lot of patience to raise a guide dog,” said Madison Templeton. “You get them when they are really little and start training them immediately. It also takes a lot of time and you have to give them your full attention.”

When asked what people would miss most about Frosty, there were various answers.

“I will miss the calmness that he was in my hectic life,” said L. Templeton.

“My personal favorite thing about Frosty is his face— I have rarely seen a dog who looks so sad, but is really so happy and loved by everyone he meets,” said Mrs. Perrone. “And, I love that he likes to wear hats.”

“My favorite memory of Frosty is the one meeting where we were working in the “down, stay’s” and he was the only one listening, and all the puppies were jumping on each other and he just looked at them all so disappointingly and was being such a good boy and holding his position,” said puppy-sitter Sophomore Connor McGehee.  

“[My favorite memory] is probably all the cuddles I got from him when he was at every volleyball tournament.” said Sophomore Kylie Scaglione.

“What I will miss most about him is his ability to make me smile in any situation I’m in,” said Madison Templeton. “He was there with me every step, and he was like a best friend to me. We would always cuddle on the floor at home and I miss that a lot. I don’t have a specific memory with him, but it’s all the little things we would do together, like playing in the snow with Tressie or walking around San Fran.”

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Bruin-raised Guide Dog takes step toward graduation