Suburban volunteers breed a puppy, giving it back to a greater benefit

Puppies packed with energy wait patiently to play. But Guide dog puppy breeders have training to finish first.

“A little puppy, as soon as someone approaches them, they will walk vertically,” says Sherry Perkowitz, 54, who lives in Round Lake Beach and volunteers as a puppy counselor for Guide dogs for the blind.

“This is a calm greeting,” Perkowitz says as she gently approaches Franklin, a 3-month-old Labrador and Golden Retriever mix wearing a blue “Future Leader Dog” scarf. “If he does it successfully, he’ll get a treat.”

Franklin resists the urge to jump and is rewarded, which pleases Franklin’s breeder, Jordan Braun, 31, who became a puppy breeder as a teenager in Michigan.

“I got involved with Leader Dogs in middle school to get out of a class I did not like,” Braun says of the independent study project in which she raised five puppies before Franklin. “I raised my first puppy in high school and then came back to it during the pandemic.”

About half of the volunteer puppy breeders return after more puppies, says Rachelle Kniffen, director of communications and marketing for Leader Dogs for the Blind. “She’s number six for me,” says Jerry Ming, 68, of 8-month-old Rikki, a female black labrador who has been training for six months. “As she chewed her way through another pile of papers this morning, she’s still training.”

Slightly fewer than half of the puppies in the program end up working with people with visual impairments. The rest undergo a “career change” and end up as therapy and comfort dogs, work with law enforcement and courts, are used as breeding dogs or simply become pets, says Kniffen.



Volunteers with Leader Dogs for the Blind are, from right to left, Sherry Perkowitz and her dog, Wendy, from Round Lake Beach;  Barb Brandt and Hallie, of Northbrook;  Jerry Ming with Rikki and Lucy from Grayslake;  and Jordan Braun and Franklin, of Chicago.

Volunteers with Leader Dogs for the Blind are, from right to left, Sherry Perkowitz and her dog, Wendy, from Round Lake Beach; Barb Brandt and Hallie, of Northbrook; Jerry Ming with Rikki and Lucy from Grayslake; and Jordan Braun and Franklin, of Chicago.
– Mark Welsh | Staff photographer

Ming, who owns Parkway Banquets on the shores of Long Lake in Ingleside, where this training takes place, raised Lucy as a puppy. The black labrador was selected for breeding, produced 27 puppies, retired as a 5-year-old and now lives with Ming, his wife, Peggy, and puppy Rikki in Grayslake.

“They’re down to a science,” Ming says of Leader Dogs for the Blind, which was founded in 1939 in Rochester Hills, Michigan, by Lions Club members motivated by a club member who lost his sight and needed a guide dog. “You turn one in and go down the hall and pick up another.”

The process of handing over a puppy you have been working on for more than a year can be difficult.

“It was harder than dropping our sons out of college,” said Barb Brandt, 67, of Northbrook, who is training his second puppy, Hallie, a 3-month-old German Shepherd dog with a touch of Labrador.

“The difference is that we knew we would see them again,” says husband Ernie Brandt of their sons, Sean and Matt.

Once returned to Leader Dogs, the puppies receive intensive training for the next four to six months by a guide dog’s mobility instructor at the dog development center, where they learn skills such as stopping for traffic or finding door handles. Barb Brandt’s first puppy, Cully, seems to be heading for a career change as a court dog and comforts children who need to testify.

“We are excited because she loves children,” Brandt says.



Barb Brandt from Northbrook will be raising this puppy, Hallie, for about a year before returning her to Leader Dogs for the Blind.  The feeling is similar to sending children to college, Brandt says.

Barb Brandt from Northbrook will be raising this puppy, Hallie, for about a year before returning her to Leader Dogs for the Blind. The feeling is similar to sending children to college, Brandt says.
– Mark Welsh | Staff photographer

Puppy trainers are all volunteers and pay for food and other expenses. They need to teach the dog to behave well enough to move on to the next training session.

Perkowitz teaches professional classes on the Washington Campus at Waukegan High School. “Wendy comes with me every day at school,” Perkowitz says of his 6-month-old black labrador. “The dogs have been around since I started.”

Her students understand that the dog is in training, so they do not rush up to pet her.

“Teachers and administrators, not so much,” says Perkowitz, who needs to remind them that her dog trains.

Once a month, puppy breeders gather for formal training. They also have public excursions where the dogs visit a large public area such as a church, fire station or mall. “The more environments we get them into, the more well-rounded they are,” Perkowitz says.

“They ride the train with me,” Braun says. In addition to sharing an apartment with Braun’s girlfriend, Matthew Eble, and cats, Lou and Cup, Franklin takes her to the Lyric Opera of Chicago, where Braun works as an assistant stage manager and Eble is a sound engineer. But not every day.

“A puppy at this age is not going to sit through Wagner’s ‘Ring Cycle,'” Braun says.



Leader Dogs for the Blind puppy breeder Jordan Braun teaches his dog, Franklin, simple commands such as sitting and staying during this training session in Ingleside.

Leader Dogs for the Blind puppy breeder Jordan Braun teaches his dog, Franklin, simple commands such as sitting and staying during this training session in Ingleside.
– Mark Welsh | Staff photographer

“Without these volunteer puppy breeders, we could not do what we do,” Kniffen says. Most of these volunteers live within a few hours drive of the headquarters. A dozen penitentiaries in Michigan, Minnesota and Iowa run a “prison puppy” program, and these facilities say it helps both inmates and puppies.

Leader Dogs for the Blind has placed more than 15,000 guide dogs across the United States and in Spain, South America and elsewhere. The charity breeds its own dogs to have the right skills and temperaments, and spends about $ 48,000 on turning a puppy into a guide dog with a career that generally lasts eight years.

For those customers who receive dogs, there is no charge for any of the training, programs, transportation and other services. Lions Club International members continue to support the program financially and by becoming breeders and puppy breeders where charity relies solely on donations.

To become a puppy breeder or learn more about the program, visit leaderdog.org.

“It’s one of the most emotional roller coasters you’ve ever been on,” said Ming, a Lions Club member who has trained puppies now working abroad. “You realize this dog is changing lives.”



She earns a reward for her good behavior and waits patiently for a treat from Barb Brandt of Northbrook.

She earns a reward for her good behavior and waits patiently for a treat from Barb Brandt of Northbrook.
– Mark Welsh | Staff photographer

These puppies training in Ingleside are not there yet.

“She works. She’s wearing her jacket. She’s not playable,” Perkowitz said of the puppies.

The moment this workout ends, Franklin and Hallie frolic and frolic and play.

“When the jacket comes off, they become normal puppies and play,” Perkowitz says. “And get their stupid on.”

.

Follow us on Google News

Disclaimers for mcutimes.com

All the information on this website – https://mcutimes.com – is published in good faith and for general information purposes only. mcutimes.com does not make any warranties about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of this information. Any action you take upon the information you find on this website (mcutimes.com), is strictly at your own risk. mcutimes.com will not be liable for any losses and/or damages in connection with the use of our website.

Give a Comment