Activities and Events at GDB Club Meetings
One of the requirements as a Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) puppy raiser is to attend frequent club meetings with their local GDB puppy club. Before becoming a raiser/sitter, volunteers must first participate in club meetings with their club leader and other members for several weeks, and once approved, become eligible to raise a guide dog puppy. There are a variety of activities and events planned by individual clubs to nurture and develop puppies in training (PIT) to prepare them for recall for formal training at GDB campuses.
Club meetings take place in a variety of settings both indoors and outdoors, and generally consist of the club leader, puppy raisers/sitters, and new members. In these meetings, participants participate in many training activities with their puppies, while new members learn new skills from experienced puppy raisers and work hands-on with the puppies. Training activities may include “around-the-clock” exercises (where the puppy keeps to the handler’s side while turning), paw pad exercises, general commands like sit, stand, down, go to bed, and puppy handling (where the handler calms the puppy laying down), and more. Subsequently, the puppy raisers and new members may go on short walks around the area or near obstacles for loose leash walking training. In addition to working with the dogs, the club leader and members share updates on their PIT’s strengths and areas of improvement and get advice from others on how to work with their puppies.
Club leaders may also decide to hold “outings” where the club members and the puppies explore different venues to expose the puppies to real life situations. These are great opportunities to work around potential distractions that are useful for training purposes, and for new members to familiarize themselves with walking a puppy in training. Routine outings can include malls, parks, and school campuses.
Last but not least are club fundraisers. Individual GDB clubs can host fundraisers to raise money to provide the club members with some equipment they might need. One example of a fundraiser was a Christmas fundraiser by the Bellevue, WA club in collaboration with a local candle store. A portion of the sales of candles were graciously donated to our club, which will help fund our precious and intelligent puppies as part of GDB’s mission.