WEST ORANGE, NJ – In 1928, a blind man named Morris Frank, after working with a dog trainer, successfully maneuvered the busy streets of New York, with his seeing eye dog, Buddy. This simple act demonstrated how trained dogs could help those without sight "access the world," The successful partnership between the blind and their companions was so significant that Frank, along with Dorothy Harrison Eustis, co-founded the Seeing Eye program.
Recently, Sharon Kessel, of Livingston, a volunteer who fosters and raises puppies for the Seeing Eye program, visited the residents of Jewish Federation Plaza in West Orange, a senior living community. The West Orange resident brought her 13-month-old golden retriever she is raising, named Fallon, who seemed to enjoy his visit just as much as the humans did.
Judy Sandman, another foster/raiser, brought her black Labrador retriever puppy for some interaction with seniors at the community, which is owned and managed by the Jewish Community Housing Corporation of Metropolitan New Jersey.
Kessel explained how the puppy-raising program works, shared information about the extensive preparation these dogs go through to become Seeing Eye dogs, and gave some history about the Seeing Eye, the world’s oldest guide dog training school. Fallon demonstrated his command responses and got hugs and pets from residents as Kessler answered residents’ questions.
Only those puppies who pass all of their physical, mental and psychological evaluations will continue their training at The Seeing Eye with the hopes of providing "independence, dignity, and self-confidence to those who are blind."