These puppies are still learning their way around a leash, but one day they will lead the blind.
"The dog that is going to make a good guide dog needs to be a confident dog, a willing dog that wants to connect and work with a person. A dog that enjoys working. Not all dogs do. It also needs to be a healthy dog," says Rachel Silverman with Guiding Eyes.
These lab retrievers are bred to be guide dogs, and at 9 weeks they are placed with a puppy raiser.
Kathleen Leach is one of the 450 puppy raisers with Guiding Eyes, based out of New York. Rachel Silverman says they program is seeing more demand than ever.
"Right now we are at a time where people are living longer, so you see more vision impairment due to more age-related reasons. We also have a war going on so we have people coming back from that," Silverman says.
Leach is training Dove for her senior project at CVU.
They start out simple: sit, down, stay... with lots of praise, and treats!
"I have been trying to challenge her so I will just do the hand motion and not the voice command and if she gets it I reward her with two treats instead of one," says Leach.
As the classes continue they will work on more complex tasks like sitting between the trainers legs, and not being distracted by other dogs.
"Walking with her is probably the biggest thing because she is pulling and wanting to explore. It is something we are working on," Leach says.
"You hope for things to be linear, but in reality you have good days and bad days. Some days he will do stuff that you know he knows better than, but he is a puppy!" says Shaun Gilpin from Burlington.
Riggles has graduated from puppy school and will now spend the next 6 months working with a trained professional before he is placed with a visually-impaired partner.
"Trainers who work for guiding eyes as staff will teach the dogs the real specifics of how do we avoid traffic, how do we turn ever so precisely, how do you maneuver around obstacles," says Silverman.
But that training is essential to a strong foundation established by the puppy raisers.
"It is bittersweet in a sense, but more on the sweet knowing that he is going off to his next chapter," says Gilpin.
Sunday, December 8 2013 7:09 AM EST2013-12-08 12:09:14 GMT
Competition could be fierce for new casino licenses in upstate New York. The licenses will be awarded next year after voters passed an amendment allowing Vegas-style casinos outside Indian land. FourMore >>
Competition could be fierce for new casino licenses in upstate New York.More >>
Sunday, December 8 2013 7:06 AM EST2013-12-08 12:06:06 GMT
Talks next week in New York will try to determine how new state land in the central Adirondacks can be used. The Adirondack Park Agency is considering recommendations for the land in the towns of IndianMore >>
Talks next week in New York will try to determine how new state land in the central Adirondacks can be used.More >>
Sunday, December 8 2013 7:04 AM EST2013-12-08 12:04:16 GMT
A 28-year-old Coventry man is dead after a crash Saturday night in Irasburg. Police say at about 8:40 p.m. Gerald Begin rolled his car on Route 5 and was thrown out of the vehicle. He was taken toMore >>
A 28-year-old Coventry man is dead after a crash Saturday night in Irasburg.More >>
Saturday, December 7 2013 8:43 PM EST2013-12-08 01:43:53 GMT
Police in New Hampshire are investigating an accident on Interstate 89 that claimed two lives. It happened on the northbound lane between Exit#18 and Exit#19 in Lebanon. The initial investigation revealedMore >>
It happened on the northbound lane between Exit#18 and Exit#19 in Lebanon, N.H. Saturday.More >>
Saturday, December 7 2013 8:38 PM EST2013-12-08 01:38:15 GMT
A Burlington family is remembering the life of a young teen through artwork. Emily Lyman died of Leukemia at just fifteen years old, in December of last year. Now, her mother, Monica Lyman, is holdingMore >>
A Burlington family is remembering the life of a young teen through artwork.More >>
Saturday, December 7 2013 8:17 PM EST2013-12-08 01:17:57 GMT
There's still plenty of time to check off gifts on that Christmas list. The 21st Annual Vermont International Festival has something for everyone. The event began at the Champlain Valley Exposition asMore >>
Shoppers could find everything from Yoga mats from South America to jewelry from Tibet.More >>
Saturday, December 7 2013 8:11 PM EST2013-12-08 01:11:52 GMT
It's out with the old and in with the new. A new ice skating rink in Stowe has replaced the old Jackson Arena. Saturday, the town welcomed skaters to take a spin on the ice at the new arena's grand opening. TheMore >>
The new skating rink will also offer a learn to skate program and hockey initiation programs for all ages.More >>
Saturday, December 7 2013 8:05 PM EST2013-12-08 01:05:37 GMT
We have some ideas for what you can do on this Sunday, December 8, 2013. ART HOP The South End Arts & Business Association is holding its 6th Annual South End Holiday sHOP event on December 6-8, 2013.More >>
We have some ideas for what you can do on this Sunday, December 8, 2013.More >>