Graduating Class #398

Friday, July 7th, 2017


Puppy Raising

Friday, June 30th, 2017
We Need You To Help Raise Us!

Volunteer as a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs of America and be a part of changing the lives of those who are blind or visually impaired. GDA is looking for loving homes to raise a puppy of 8 weeks of age until he or she is around 18 months old. If you live in Southern California, we want to hear from you.


Arm full of puppies

Our puppies are placed in foster homes at 8 weeks of age. The volunteer foster families are called puppy raisers.

All first-time applicants must fill out applications and be interviewed before a puppy is placed in the home. Raisers must live in Southern California (Sylmar, San Gabriel Valley, South Bay, Orange County, Westside Los Angeles, San Diego, Ventura or San Luis Obispo). Children and pets in the household are a plus.

Receiving a puppy: You will be notified and scheduled to come in for a Puppy Orientation meeting. In this meeting we’ll explain the “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for raising the puppy. You will be given a a Puppy Manual on raising and a folder with schedules and tips to help you along the way. After orientation you will be given your GDA puppy.

You will also receive a bowl, brush, bone, leash, collar, ID tag, ID card, puppy jacket, and a 5 lb bag of dog food. Food and any items purchased for the puppy are tax deductible. Our puppies are cared for in our state-of-the-art veterinary clinic on our campus in Sylmar. Out-of-state puppy raisers are reimbursed for all veterinary bills.

Your role as a puppy raiser: You will play an essential part in making sure your puppy receives the proper socialization needed to help adjust to the important job he or she will do later on in life.

It will be your responsibility to socialize the puppy as much as you can. Take your puppy everywhere. Expose the puppy to as many different situations as possible (construction sites, heavy traffic areas, animals, children). A well-socialized puppy will have fewer adjustments to make when he or she comes in for formal guide dog training.

Through our obedience classes, you will teach your puppy how to walk on a leash, how to sit, stay, lay down, and come when called. It will also be your responsibility to attend monthly meetings. The meetings allow your puppy the opportunity to interact with other dogs and the meetings give you the opportunity to talk to other puppy raisers. The meetings are a good time to make friends and compare notes on your puppies.

Guide dog “college”: At about 18 months of age, our puppies return to Guide Dogs of America for formal guide dog training. At that time, we host an In-For-Training Luncheon for puppy raisers as a way to say thank you, to get together one last time, and to give puppy raisers an opportunity to say goodbye as they send their puppies off to formal training.

Formal training takes about four to six months. There is no visiting during this time but the puppy raiser can call to see how their puppy is doing while in training and will receive quarterly report cards.

The ultimate reward: Guide Dogs of America volunteer puppy raisers meet the blind recipient of the dog they raised at the guide dog team’s Graduation Ceremony.

Guide Dogs of America Grads Are On The Go

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

When students arrive at GDA, it is with the goal of achieving greater independence, mobility and freedom. Having the assistance and companionship of a guide dog certainly makes the day-to-day and routine activities easier. But for guide dog teams, exploring beyond their typical routes or boundaries that they’ve established for themselves can be an adventure and give the guide dog user a greater sense of wanting to explore further. Sometimes it’s a neighboring city or state; or it might be a destination across the country or on an ocean cruise with multiple ports of call; or the call of the wild and the great outdoors. No matter how near or far, our guide dog teams are out and about and enjoying life.

Donor Spotlight: Two Very Special Ladies and a Very Special Gift

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

A daughter wanted to fulfill her mother’s wishes, and Guide Dogs of America was honored to be the recipient of a gift of more than $1 million. The daughter made the gift anonymously in loving memory of her mother.

“C” and “D” Litters Meet Their Raisers!

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

Guide Dogs of America’s volunteer puppy raiser families foster our puppies from the age of 8 weeks until the dogs enter formal guide dog training at around 18 months of age.

7 Reasons Why A Guide Dog is Right For You

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Our training program is designed to accommodate both the experienced guide dog handler and the first timer. In this recent interview with The CW Network, Guide Dogs of America graduate Lorri Bernson talks about how her guide dogs have changed her life. Lorri is GDA’s Media and Community Liaison and a GDA board member.

“B” Litter Meets Their Volunteer Raisers!

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Guide Dogs of America’s volunteer puppy raiser families foster our puppies from the age of 8 weeks until the dogs enter formal guide dog training at around 18 months of age.

Donor Spotlight: Her Thrift Became Sizable Gift to GDA

Friday, April 28th, 2017

Even as a young girl, Patricia “Pat” Custer was a dog lover. It was a wonderful surprise that she left her estate of more than $1 million to Guide Dogs of America. Those who knew Custer were aware of her thriftiness, but all were amazed by the large a donation she gifted to GDA.

Custer began her career as a secretary at NBC in Hollywood, Calif. In 1973, she became the bookkeeper for the newly formed Corporate Productions Inc. (CPI) and stayed with the company the rest of her career.

President’s Message

Friday, April 28th, 2017

We have been busy at GDA putting the finishing touches on our Visitor and Education Center, which includes a new GDA merchandise store and offices for several of the staff. We are excited about the opportunities that will come to GDA as a result of having this new space.

For our students, the new building also offers another environment for the teams to experience while walking a route on campus. We also have changed to a 21-day training program, which has been very well received by our students.

Give a GDA Gift, Support GDA!

Friday, April 7th, 2017

GDA’s new on-campus store is now open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Macki and Phil Singer Visitor Education Center. The GDA store is also open from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturdays when graduation ceremonies are held (find the graduation schedule here).

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