Video: Guide Dogs of the Desert

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.... NARRATOR: There are no words which can describe the difference in your own world between having to tap with a cane or having a guide dog to lead you confidently through life as a treasured and trusted companion. As one guide dog recipient explained, she cried the first time she was able to walk independently through a department store, something that was out of her reach before. Guide Dogs of the Desert ROCCIE HILL, Executive Director: The mission of Guide Dogs of the Desert is to provide guide dogs for blind people, and we do that by breeding them, by training them, and by then giving them free of charge to the blind people who need and want this other kind of independence, this miracle of independence that a dog will provide for them. NARRATOR: Since 1972, Guide Dogs of the Desert has been making those small miracles possible every day through their program. Located near Palm Springs, California, this non-profit organization includes a full-service kennel, a puppy breeding program, and guide dog training provided by a staff of professional, licensed instructors who work with both guide dogs and blind students to insure successful bonding. According to the American Foundation for the Blind, every seven minutes someone in America becomes blind or visually impaired. That?s a total of more than twenty million people, including many of our existing and returning military veterans. Only about ten thousand today have guide dogs, thus creating an urgent need for the work that is done by Guide Dogs of the Desert. KIM LAIDLAW, Director of Marketing & Public Relations: Although the puppies were what initially brought me into the organization, the entire goal, and just the miracle of independence and the mobility that these dogs are able to provide for people of the blind community just completely overwhelms me. ROCCIE HILL, Executive Director: In order to provide a single guide dog to a single blind person, it takes an enormous amount of effort on behalf of a lot of people. We have our volunteers who raise the puppies, we have highly trained staff who breed the dogs. KIM LAIDLAW, Director of Marketing & Public Relations: Volunteers are vital to Guide Dogs of the Desert. Without the puppy raisers, I don?t know what we would do. NARRATOR: The Puppy raisers are a unique and devoted group of volunteers. They raise and help to train the dogs in their own homes. And then, after a year and a half, they give them back for formal guide dog training. LORIE MIXON CRABTREE, Puppy Raiser: Our entire family, my husband and my six-year-old daughter all take the dog, we all do different things with him and the dog will actually learn to listen to all of us. Our take on it, you know, as far as the having him only for that length of time, is the fact that we knew they were going back for a greater cause. NARRATOR: Guide Dogs of the Desert is distinctive in so many ways, including their training department. Their training department and custom tailored program that best fits the lifestyles and job requirements of their students. Montezuma Creek, Utah Oleta Wayley is a missionary who lived on an Indian Reservation with her husband in Utah. OLETA WAYLEY: I have tried for five years to get a guide dog. Most of the guide dog programs in existence now feel like you should like in the city. NARRATOR: Oleta was embraced by Guide Dogs of the Desert who adapted their normal city training to include the outdoor life that she leads. OleTa arrived at the training facility of Guide Dogs of the Desert ready to begin her twenty-eight day training. Oleta started with the basics. OLETA WAYLEY: This morning when we were told what all we would be doing in our training I was thinking oh, am I sure I want to do this? I hope I?m young enough to remember what all I?m supposed to be doing. NARRATOR: And then came the day she had awaited five long years. OLETA WAYLEY: I can hardly wait. I?m thinking of all the objects in my yard that I?m not going to be falling over from now on. Hi Jake. How pretty. How pretty you are! STAFF MEMBER: Quite an emotional time, isn?t it? All right. OLETA WAYLEY: You?re so pretty. STAFF MEMBER: You can just get down on the floor, and give him some loving. You see, he already loves you! NARRATOR: Oleta and Jake began the process of bonding as a team. From city streets to hotels, bus rides, and then, restaurants. Oleta and Jake learn from and about each other every single day. For Oleta the most difficult part of the twenty-eight days was being away from her husband and her extended family. The final stage of training took Oleta and Jake into the desert to learn how to deal with the types of paths and roads that they would find at home in Utah. Along the way Jake met a new group of friends, just like the ones that he would soon meet once he returned home to Utah. Finally, after twenty-eight days of hard work, it is time for graduation. Just before graduation, a touching moment for Oleta and Jake, a chance for Oleta to meet the woman who had raised Jake, and for Jake to enjoy an affectionate reunion. STAFF MEMBER: Oleta, I have Vickie Shepherd here, who was Jake?s puppy raiser. Vickie, this is Oleta Wayley. NARRATOR: At graduation Oleta and Jake celebrated the twenty-eight day journey that they had taken together and the life that lay ahead, filled with service and assistance to each other and to all those in Oleta?s care. Unless you?ve experienced it, it?s hard to explain, to be able to see what a difference we as an organization, our donors, the puppy raisers, all working together, have been able to accomplish. Guide Dogs of the Desert 888-883-0022
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