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.
Wednesday, April 16 2014 11:52 PM EDT2014-04-17 03:52:17 GMT
The Stowe Police Department is currently investigating the untimely death of two adults. Stowe Police responded to 262 Cady Hill Road at 4:38 p.m. and discovered deceased individuals. The Stowe PoliceMore >>
The Stowe Police Department is currently investigating the untimely death of two adults.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 11:49 PM EDT2014-04-17 03:49:04 GMT
Major flaws were uncovered in the Burlington School Budget that failed at the polls. An audit has discovered that the district was making huge errors when budgeting for next year. What this means, is thatMore >>
Major flaws were uncovered in the Burlington School Budget that failed at the polls. An audit has discovered that the district was making huge errors when budgeting for next year.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:53 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:53:47 GMT
Teamwork between a Montgomery farmer and a corporal with the Franklin Country sheriff's department may have saved a life when they pulled off a daring rescue. A woman became trapped in her truck tryingMore >>
It was a lifesaving rescue in the nick of time. A Franklin County sheriff's deputy put his life on the line to save a woman trapped in a truck with floodwaters raging around her. More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 7:00 PM EDT2014-04-16 23:00:55 GMT
After this week's whirlwind weather events and major flooding Tuesday, Governor Shumlin (D-Vermont), VTrans and state transportation officials held a news conference Wednesday to discuss the aftermath. ShumlinMore >>
After this week's whirlwind weather events and major flooding Tuesday, Governor Shumlin, VTrans and state transportation officials held a news conference Wednesday to discuss the aftermath.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 12:02 PM EDT2014-04-16 16:02:05 GMT
The floods forced Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency in New York. The governor made the declaration Tuesday night. It covers six counties in northeastern of New York, including two inMore >>
The floods forced Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency in New York.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:21 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:21:46 GMT
A body found near the North Hartland Dam appears to be that of a missing man from New Hampshire. Michael Hayward, 42, of Sunapee, disappeared two months ago. His car was found near the Quechee Gorge. PoliceMore >>
A body found near the North Hartland Dam appears to be that of a missing man from New Hampshire.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 7:14 PM EDT2014-04-16 23:14:24 GMT
Authorities say six people managed to escape a house fire in Plattsburgh Tuesday morning. First responders say when they arrived at 42 Smith Street, the house was completely engulfed in flames. CityMore >>
Authorities say six people managed to escape a house fire in Plattsburgh Tuesday morning. Police say the blaze was sparked by a child playing with a lighter.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:07 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:07:50 GMT
Police in Haverhill, N.H., say they got numerous calls about a young child walking down a road alone. They found the child about a mile from her home. She was brought back to the residence, but the NewMore >>
Police in Haverhill, N.H., say they found a young child alone about a mile from her home.More >>