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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

June 22, 2018   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Furry friends with a future: Meet Guiding Eyes for the Blind

Ziti is an 8-month-old black Labrador who is being raised by sophomore Sarah LaFontaine. LaFontaine said Ziti is a sassy and mischievous dog who loves going for walks in the woods. RAY VOLKIN/THE ITHACAN  Sophomore Zachary Thomas and his yellow Labrador  Edric love spending time at the farmer’s market. RAY VOLKIN/THE ITHACAN Waffle’s raiser, junior Sophie Hancock, said she likes to see how Waffle has continued to learn to make her own decisions. RAY VOLKIN/THE ITHACAN Ocala is a 1-year-old guide dog raised by sophomore  Samantha Epstein. Her favorite treat is a peanut-butter kong. CAITIE IHRIG/THE ITHACAN	Pepper is a smart and outgoing guide dog who loves to socialize and explore new things. She loves to swim. RAY VOLKIN/THE ITHACAN Junior Jack Ficcardi is Bonita’s raiser. He said his favorite part about raising Bonita is watching her be able to focus through distractions. RAY VOLKIN/THE ITHACAN
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Ziti is an 8-month-old black Labrador who is being raised by sophomore Sarah LaFontaine. LaFontaine said Ziti is a sassy and mischievous dog who loves going for walks in the woods. RAY VOLKIN/THE ITHACAN

Guiding Eyes for the Blind is an international nonprofit organization that connects trained dogs with people who are blind or visually impaired. The organization was founded in 1954 and has since connected over 7,000 guide dogs with new owners. At Ithaca College, students who participate in the college’s chapter of the organization can become a raiser and train a puppy to one day graduate and be matched with an owner. The raisers train the puppies for a year and a half to get them ready to join a guide dog team once they graduate. By being on campus and being
surrounded by different environments, the dogs learn how to adjust to these environments to prepare them for life beyond training.