Taking a GDB Puppy to High School as a Puppy Raiser
A first-time raiser in the Reno, NV puppy club, Abigail describes her start with GDB and taking her puppy in training, Romo, to high school.
My name is Abigail Pruitt. I am currently a sophomore at AACT. I am part of the Reno puppy club. I am raising my first puppy named Romo, a male black lab.
I have owned my own business for about 6 years making marionette puppets www.pruittpuppets.com. I found out about GDB when my mom and I were vendors at a craft fair and a few raisers came up to our booth. One puppy was nervous about my puppets but after only a few minutes and many treats later the dog no longer cared and was even interested in the product. This happened again the next year and that is when I wanted to become a guide dog raiser to help others.
Having Romo is a lot of hard work but I love having him and I think he has helped me in so many ways. He has helped me look after someone else, made me more responsible, and also just made me happier in general. As a new raiser, it has been hard to not have normal meetings to go to during quarantine. But everyone has been so helpful and willing to answer my questions. Puppies take a lot of time and attention. But I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything, and I would love to do it again.
Being able to take Romo to school has been a lot of fun. In order to take Romo, I had to reach out to the school by emailing the principal. After that, I told all of my teachers that I would be taking Romo to class with me. Before he ever sat in class, I would take him in before class and walk him around to get him comfortable. Then we started with just my first period and gradually worked up to full days. It took about 4 or 5 weeks. One of my teachers was very kind and even let me put a crate in his room just in case Romo needed it.
Because of the pandemic, I was going to school in person every other day. Luckily it did not change much for Romo, because when we were at home we would work on settling under my desk. When we were at school Romo would sit under my desk and sleep or chew a bone. All of my friends and teachers loved him. Almost all of the time Romo was quiet and a great boy, but twice he spoke up just a little bit. One time, my English teacher said “it was great to see you all in person” and Romo gave the smallest little “woof”. My teacher laughed and said, “and dogs too!”. Some of my teachers wanted to put him on their attendance sheets, and get him a student ID!
The biggest challenge of bringing him was probably not knowing how he was going to do and making sure he was not a distraction to me and to everyone else. But he calmed both of my fears within the first few days, the way he would sleep and settle during class. The best part of having him is that he is like a personal de-stressor under your desk. He would sit calmly and wag his tail sometimes. I think that he helped calm other kids at the school too. If someone was having a bad day they would see him and immediately cheer up.
At school, we work on settling, collar cues, and greetings. He also gets to work on distractions like paper falling, strange noises (the fire alarm was interesting) and fun classroom activities (walking around the classroom with all of the other kids). I think going to school has helped him with being patient and knowing when he can have fun. This experience will help him in the future when he has to go to guide someone or even just have a lazy day with his potential handler. He is such a good boy and I can’t wait to see where he goes!