Lexie Spence has learned how tough it is to raise a guide dog for 15 months and then have to hand her over to her new owner.
She knows what a valuable service she has done and her Mom Kristen said the first weekend without “Meggie” was tough.
“Meggie” graduated from the Guide Dogs For the Blind in February and went to her new home in Texas after that.
Knowing she is going to be such a big help to a blind person somehow makes the separation bearable, but is still bittersweet for the entire Spence family.
Kristen has raised guide dogs since she was Lexie's age so she is very familiar with not only the training but the letting go.
This was Lexie's first experience and one that will stay with her forever as she provided the gift of eyes through “Meggie.”
Weekly meetings are held each week for the handlers and their dogs and they are able to keep the dogs two to three months.
To get started, a leader must come to the handler's home to make sure the dog will be a good fit.
The entire application process takes a couple of months but once the dog arrives it is a continuous work in progress to teach the dogs to sit, stay and stay down, the basic commands.
Labs and Golden Retrievers are used as guide dogs as well as crosses between the two.
Normal puppy training can be trying at times, especially with potty training, but with the guide dog experience it can be more so because they must be watched every second because they can get into things.
Of course taking the guide dog everywhere they go is instrumental in the handling because this means the dog will be that much more ready to help their blind person if they have experienced many different situations.
The Spence's made sure “Meggie” went into restaurants, church, even the Butte County Fair where she experienced the lights and the many sounds.
“Meggie” had to pass all 10 phases of Guide Dog Instruction, formal training in San Rafael before she graduated February 20, 2016. The Spence family was of course there for her graduation and to meet her new owner.
“Meggie's” new owner has sent emails to the Spence's letting them know she is doing fine.