By Charlie Peña, CBS 62/CW50 Intern
The need for “seeing eye” guidance dogs is growing nationwide. The Michigan-based nonprofit organization Leader Dogs for the Blind is trying their best to cope with the increasing demand, but now this organization is in desperate need of volunteers willing to host a Leader Dog Mom.
A Leader Dog Mom is a female dog of a certain breed that has been chosen to reproduce because her pups have the potential to be great Leader Dogs someday. Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, German shepherds and Labrador/golden crosses are the breeds that have been selected as the best for guidance.
Why did Leader Dogs for the Blind start a breeding program? Sam Ziegenmeyer answered, “We couldn’t find the right size and temperament of dogs consistently at the shelters. Once we developed a breeding program we found that the purpose bred dog was healthier and had a more consistent temperament.”
Because of this breeding program, Leader Dogs for the Blind has a relatively new volunteer program called the Breeding Stock Host Volunteer Opportunity that involves people hosting dog mothers throughout three to four litters, approximately two to two-and-a-half years. After that the mom is spayed and the host may adopt her.
What does Leader Dogs for the Blind look for in a host family? Breeding Programs Manager Sam Ziegenmeyer answered, “Host homes can be from a variety of walks of life but our needs include flexible hours to be at home and willingness to make plans around the litters for the next two years.”
Interested individuals can learn about the responsibility and rewards of being a host family for a Leader Dog Mom by attending an upcoming orientation. The volunteer will then learn their role in hosting a Leader Dog Mom. Becoming a host is easier than it seems and to make things better you will have comprehensive support provided by Leader Dog’s breeding department and veterinary staff. Head to the Canine Development Center at 1039 S. Rochester Rd. in Rochester Hills Saturday, February 25th from 10:00am to 11:30am to attend the orientation.
Leader Dogs for the Blind has been providing independent travel to the visually impaired since its founding in 1939. Over the years Leader Dogs for the Blind has provided over 14,500 individuals with a life-changing service dog. For more information on Leader Dogs for the Blind, call (888) 777-5332 or visit leaderdog.org.
Charlie Peña is a Digital Media Specialist that studied at Lansing Community College. He is now interning with CBS 62/CW 50. He enjoys filming and editing video and has a special interest in recording and mixing music.