Paws For Cause gives UA students opportunity to teach dogs to help the blind
Sharon, roughly 9 months old, relaxes at the side of her trainer Danielle Gianotti on Feb. 15.
Paws for Cause, a local group working to train guide dogs for the blind, gives UA students a chance to give back while also having a furry friend to hang out with.
Lindsey Chew, a junior neuroscience major, explained her favorite part of raising dogs.
“We truly bond with the puppies and grow with them. I love that they love us back," Chew said.
Despite the bond that puppy’s and their raisers share, there is still a learning curve for the raisers. Not every dog reacts the same way to a single situation.
“We must get to know our puppy's personality," Chew said. "We have to learn which activities are the most fun, the distractions that are the biggest hurdle for him to overcome."
Puppies have time to develop a relationship with their raisers.
“My puppy, Juan is always by my side when I am on campus,” she said.
She enjoys seeing him make progress. As each dog gets older they are able to be exposed to environments that are more stimulating.
“It is good to take them to environments where they are going to have to be quiet or if they have to get used to clapping, we take them to the movies,” Chew said.
During the hard moments, she thinks about the contribution that her dog, Juan will make for someone when his training concludes.
“I love knowing that they have a big future ahead, enabling the independence of their visually impaired partners and changing their lives,” Chew said.
Training a dog is helping her improve in other areas.
“Paying attention to Juan's behavior has definitely pushed my awareness to a new level. I pay attention to details around me in a different way than before,” Chew said
She noted that puppy raisers and the puppies themselves have the same goals.
“The puppies bring people together, no matter how different we may seem on the outside. Our dogs are having an impact on the world,” Chew said
She explained that Paws for Cause allowed her to extend her service beyond a single event.
During the raising process, there are no breaks in the dog’s training. Raisers must teach their puppies essential skills that they will need to help a person in an effective manner.
“When I go home for the day, I can continue to make a difference. When I watch Netflix I work with Juan on his daily exercises,” she said.
Tayler Markle, a high school student from Marana Arizona says that training is her favorite part of raising her puppy, Reona.
“She came up to me with a sock in her mouth while I was watching TV. She started picking things up just to bring them to me,” Markle said.
“It is the proudest moment of your life when a dog learns a lays down for you. I cried,” she said.
Regardless of the path that a puppy takes it is emotional when a raiser says goodbye to a puppy. However, raisers remind themselves that they played a small role in improving another person’s life.
“It’s a bitter-sweet moment but helping people is their purpose,” Daniel Giannotti, a mathematics graduate student said.
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