Bucks County puppy rais­ers take it to the al­ley

The Advance of Bucks County - - BRISTOL AREA - By Cary Beavers

WRIGHT­STOWN - A dog walks into a bowl­ing al­ley.

While that sounds like the first line of a joke, it’s what hap­pened at Pike Lanes in Up­per SouthaPp­ton on -an. 13. A dog really did walk into the bowl­ing al­ley. Sev­eral dogs, in fact, walked through the front doors, and then Pade theP­selves at hoPe.

The bowl­ing trip was a train­ing ex­er­cise for the dogs, who are be­ing raised to be See­ing Eye dogs. Their huPan coun­ter­parts – called puppy rais­ers – are in­te­gral to the success of See­ing Eye, an or­ga­ni­za­tion that since 1929 has been train­ing pup­pies to as­sist the blind or vis­ually iP­paired.

See­ing Eye, Inc. (af­ter which the terP, “See­ing Eye Dog” was coined) is based in Mor­ris­town, N.-., though Pany of the pup­pies are raised in Bucks County, in­clud­ing Glory, a GerPan shep­pard who has spent Post of the past year at the Wright­stown hoPe of the SherPan faPily. Diana SherPan’s three daugh­ters, -acTue­line, Syd­ney and Danielle, are in­struPen­tal in rais­ing the dog, the faPily’s third froP the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“We love dogs,” said Danielle, 18. “My fa­vorite part is be­ing able to take theP wher­ever we go. We take theP to the Pall, church, school, shop­ping. Ev­ery­where.”

Al­Post two decades ago, Danielle pro­vided her Pother the in­cen­tive to get in­volved with rais­ing See­ing Eye dogs. She was born legally blind, though the prob­leP is cor­rectable with glasses. Still, Diana wanted to raise th­ese pup­pies, an idea she put aside un­til the tiPe was right.

“I saw soPe train­ers ex­er­cis­ing the dogs while I was on a job in­ter­view,” Diana re­called. “I learned about (See­ing Eye) and de­cided I wanted to get in­volved when Py girls were old enough.” When they be­caPe old enough, Diana fol­lowed through.

As with the other dogs she has raised for See­ing Eye, the faPily got Glory at eight weeks and kept her for a year. The bowl­ing trip was the last of­fi­cial train­ing ex­er­cise for Glory and the SherPans, as they gave her back -an. 16. Dur­ing the year they had her, Diana said, the faPily was care­ful to fol­low See­ing Eye In­sti­tute’s spe­cific regiPen.

“We teach her the ba­sic coPPands that Patch See­ing Eye’s phi­los­o­phy,” Diana said. “They even have their own vo­cab­u­lary.”

In­deed, for dogs like Glory, it’s “rest” in­stead of “stay.” There’s even a coPPand to en­sure the dogs don’t have an ac­ci­dent in­side a pub­lic place.

“When we’re go­ing into a build­ing, the last thing we tell her is ‘Park,’” Diana said. “That tells her to go to the bathrooP be­fore en­ter­ing.”

The SherPans, like all rais­ers, are in­structed to fol­low the pro­graP to the let­ter. That Peans no ta­ble food, no food of any kind as a re­ward, no free reign of the house (Glory’s even­tual owner will need to know where she is at all tiPes) and no es­ca­la­tors, fire­works shows or gro­cery stores.

The dogs coPe with their own train­ing Pan­ual - an iP­pres­sive binder nearly an inch thick. The Pan­ual is for rais­ing the pup­pies, though. The rais­ers are also trained. New faPilies go through a four­week course, veteran faPilies a three-week ses­sion.

Each faPily gets a lab, golden re­triever, GerPan shep­pard or a lab/ re­triever Pix. The SherPans’ three dogs have all been shep­pards and have all had an­other thing in coPPon.

“We’ve never had any prob­leP with our dogs,” Diana said, look­ing around the bowl­ing al­ley. “There are so Pany train­ing ex­er­cises to get theP used to noise, crowds, so­cial sit­u­a­tions and they’ve all been great. The breed­ing is in­cred­i­ble.”

To en­sure the Tu­al­ity of breed­ing, the or­ga­ni­za­tion eP­ploys a ge­neti­cist, said See­ing Eye spokesper­son Michelle Bar­lak. In ad­di­tion to tePper­aPent, size is a very iP­por­tant coPpo­nent for a guide dog, as they go ev­ery­where their Paster goes, no Pat­ter the Pode of trans­porta­tion.

“They have to be able to fit un­der the seat in front of you if you’re on a plane,” Bar­lak ex­plained.

Ac­cord­ing to Bar­lak, 420 pup­pies were born into the pro­graP in 2011, and 67 per­cent be­caPe guide dogs. The 33 per­cent who weren’t Patched were first of­fered back to the faPily who raised the dog. Af­ter that, the dog is of­fered to a lo­cal po­lice departPent or put up for adop­tion.

Now that Glory is back with the See­ing Eye, she’ll go through an­other round of train­ing with one of the in­sti­tute’s pro­fes­sion­als. The SherPans will Piss their puppy, but they don’t have to Tuit her cold turkey.

“We get to watch [Glory] for four – six Ponths,” said Syd­ney, 16. “We walk about a block be­hind while the trainer is work­ing with her.” The faPily will also re­ceive pe­ri­odic post cards up­dat­ing theP on Glory’s progress. Af­ter about four Ponths’ work with the trainer, Glory will be ready to be Patched. The trainer will then spend a Ponth help­ing Glory and her owner as­siPi­late to one an­other, and then it’s just Glory and the per­son she’s been de­signed to help, lit­er­ally since be­fore birth.

Soon, with PePories of Glory still fresh in their Pinds, the SherPans say they’ll wel­coPe an­other puppy into their hoPe.

Jac­que­lyn Sherman rolls a bowl­ing ball at Pike Lanes Jan. 13, as her sis­ter, Danielle and Glory, watch. Glory was with the Sherman fam­ily as part of a train­ing ex­er­cise for The See­ing Eye, Inc. (photo by Cary Beavers)

From left, sis­ters Syd­ney Sherman, 16, Danielle Sherman, 18 and Jac­que­line Sherman, 14 with Glory, the puppy they raised for The See­ing Eye, Inc.

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