Thank you for visiting paducahsun.com, the online home of The Paducah Sun.

June 2012
27 28 29 30 31 01 02

Click here to submit an event.

Puppy learns to be a guide dog

by BOB SUSNJARA (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald

GRAYSLAKE, Ill. - At just 5 months old, Bailey is getting an education at Grayslake Central High School.

She has been attending an after-school ACT preparation class and other activities since January. However, unlike other pupils, she isn't learning from Grayslake Central's instructors.

Junior Abby Perkowitz is the teacher for Bailey, a black Labrador puppy starting to learn how to become a guide dog. Perkowitz said the school serves as a valuable training ground for the animal she received from the nonprofit Leader Dogs for the Blind in Rochester Hills, Mich.

"She learns how to act in crowds and she learns how to be invisible and sit there," said Perkowitz, who happened on Leader Dogs for the Blind with her family at the Indiana State Fair last year, completed an application and eventually gained approval as a puppy trainer.

Rod Haneline, chief programs and services officer at Leader Dogs for the Blind, said while it's common for teenagers to teach basic obedience and socialize puppies for 12 to 16 months before the animals are returned for intensive training, the setting is unlikely to be a high school.

"That's not normally what we see," Haneline said. "That's a great thing."

Bailey's route into Grayslake Central began when Perkowitz and her mother asked to meet Principal John Bolger. They were not specific about the topic before the meeting, but Bolger said he noticed Bailey bounding toward him when Perkowitz and her mom arrived - getting a quick lesson about guide dogs in the process.

"I made the biggest mistake you ever make with a working dog, right?" Bolger said. "I got down on the ground and I played with her. It's an absolutely irresistible animal. I mean, who in the world could possibly keep their hands off this gorgeous puppy? She's just such a love."

After the meeting, Bolger said, administrators received assurances Grayslake Central was clear of any potential liability problems before allowing Perkowitz to bring the puppy to the school in January.

He said the arrangement with the dog has worked well so far.

Bailey also has become an educator of sorts, Bolger said, because students, teachers and others at Grayslake Central are learning about all that goes into a guide dog. He said the high level of responsibility a student is willing to take on to train the dog has been impressive.

"For the dog to be able to be in an authentic environment, there's an acclimation here that would have to take place," Bolger said. "And if you really think about it, how else is a seeing-eye dog ever going to have access (to a school)? And for a student to lead that way and know enough about the proper training of an animal to make that happen, we're just so proud of Abby and we're so proud of being a part of this process."

Perkowitz, 16, said she hopes to have Bailey in Grayslake Central for more than the twice-a-week ACT class and other after-school activities. She said the goal is to bring the dog with her to regular classes at least weekly before the academic season ends.

In the ACT preparation class, Bailey sits on a mat and typically chews a bone next to Perkowitz while Perkowitz takes practice tests. One of the instructors, Dan Armes, said the dog has yet to be a problem in the classroom.

"I thought at first the puppy would be doing something that could be a distraction, but I am pleasantly surprised that the kids are able to work without even realizing that (she) is there," Armes said.

Haneline said trainers such as Perkowitz lay a vital foundation before an animal enters the final leg of intensive guide dog instruction. He said awareness and self-control are major elements of the training.

Puppy-raisers meet monthly with a regional counselor who organizes obedience lessons and various public scenarios for the future guide dogs.

Strict rules must be followed by the raisers, including placement of a "Future Leader Dog" bandanna or jacket on the puppy when in public. In addition to staying off furniture, the puppies are expected to lie quietly at meal time and not beg.

Comments made about this article - 0 Total

Comment on this article

Your comment has been submitted for approval
captcha 68a426a86965406f87e50b0579dd1792
Top Classifieds
  • AKC Shih-Tzu Vet checked, $600 731-3 ... Details
  • Museum Quality Ornate Antique Furnitu ... Details
  • PILLOW TOPmattress sets NEW in plasti ... Details
  • Cash for Farms (270)339-8680 Details
  • Bedroom Suites New in Boxes. 6pc. che ... Details
  • Seasoned Firewood. 270-243-5815 Details
  • 5 Broiler Houses80 acres irrigated pa ... Details
  • SEEING is believing! Don't b ... Details
  • Owner Financing, new 3000sq ft,in Mar ... Details
  • 375 Acre Farm in Ballard County D ... Details
  • FHA, USDA, VA & Conventional Loan ... Details
  • Hyundai Accent '02 $1,800 97 ... Details
  • 05 CHEVY MALIBU $2500(270) 388-5983 Details
  • '06 Lincoln Truck One of the ... Details

Most Popular
  1. Vikings clip Falcon wings on road
  2. Last Oregon occupiers surrender
  3. Chihuahua saves family from fire
  1. Community looks for missing woman
  2. McCracken County Indictments
  3. Man arrested on drug charges
  1. Student helps further bullying bill
  2. Vikings clip Falcon wings on road
  3. Last Oregon occupiers surrender

Check out these recently discussed stories and voice your opinion...