Saturday, January 12, 2008

Foster families to care for guide dogs for the visually impaired

Two eight-week-old Labrador retrievers flew to Calgary this weekend, to kickstart a puppy-raising program for Alberta Guide Dog Services.

Littermates Nelson and Tucker stepped off a plane from Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday to meet their Calgary foster families, who will raise and train them for the next 15 months.

Lisa and Graham Lindgren and their two kids, Robert, 9, and Laura, 6, are tasked with socializing Nelson to prepare him for his future role as a guide dog, as well as taking him to obedience classes.

Wearing a blue vest that indicates his status as a guide dog in training, Nelson will accompany the family on their daily travels -- to the grocery store, the movies, the mall, public transit, etc.

"It's for the greater good -- we're doing this for the benefit of a person who is visually impaired," the stay-at-home mom said yesterday.

Families like the Lindgrens are fundamental to the success of the program, said Linda Thornton, puppy raising manager for Alberta and B.C. Guide Dog Services.

"We need to produce more dogs because we have a huge waiting list of visually impaired people," she said. "We're always looking for puppy raisers."

The puppy-raising program in Calgary has been made possible by a grant from the Wild Rose Foundation, said Thornton.

For more information about the program, call 258-0819.


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