Fourth-grade students at Moriches Elementary School recently received a visit from “Sully,” a 15-month old guide dog-in-training, who along with her handler and puppy-raiser, Ruthann Collins, and Guide Dog Foundation Ambassador Carol Rudman, demonstrated some of the Foundation’s training techniques and provided information about the Foundation and its work for the blind and visually impaired. At the conclusion of the assembly, students and staff presented the Guide Dog Foundation with a generous donation of items such as blankets, towels, sanitary wipes and more. This special assembly was organized by fourth-grade teacher Nicolle Ranieri and attended by students in Alison Conklin’s, Susan Gleason’s, Kate Johnson’s, Sharon McCue’s, Leah Olivo’s and Thomas Short’s classes.
The Guide Dog Foundation, located in Smithtown, NY, has been training guide dogs for more than 70 years including sophisticated techniques such as “intelligent disobedience,” which teaches dogs to protect their owner from any danger even if it means disobeying their master’s command. While in training, the dogs learn many different lessons such as proper house manners, and how to socialize. They also learn up to 80 different commands, and must master at least 72 of them to become guide dogs. According to Ms. Collins, only about 50 percent of dogs who are trained actually end up becoming guide dogs as others end up with career changes such as being used for emotional support, drug sniffing, diabetic alert and other highly-trained service animals.
Story by Thomas Reilly, Public Relations Intern
St. Joseph’s College