MACUNGIE, Pa. – Puppies with a purpose. It’s the mission of New Jersey-based The Seeing Eye. The nation’s oldest guide school needs your help to expand its Raising Pup program.
Macungie’s Robyn and Dennis Oplinger have had 1-year-old black lab Winston since he was 7 weeks old, one of 17 puppies the couple has raised for the organization.
“As a puppy raiser, our job is basic obedience, teaching. And then we take them out in the community. So they learn how to have good manners,” she said.
In a few months Winston will leave the Oplinger’s and head back to the Morristown, New Jersey training center to become what he was born to be: a guide dog for the blind. Like 3-year-old German Shepherd Kodak, who’s continuing the path of independence for 76-year-old John Hollenbach of Perkasie, who’d had six dogs from The Seeing Eye.
“I cannot explain to people how much easier it has made my life and for my wife also,” he said.
Since 1929, The Seeing Eye has bred and raised pups to be guide dogs. They house clients like Hollenbach at the training center campus at no charge for a month of training with their matched canine.
Dogs like Kodack cost the organization $73,000 to raise. However, the cost to clients is $150, then $50 for each dog after. For veterans it’s $1.
Winston is part of the 500 pups the organization breeds each year.
“The Seeing Eye is wonderful, because they do cover all the vet costs, and provide a stipend to help families raising them. And we definitely need families. That’s probably our biggest need at this moment, is more families to raise puppies,” said area coordinator Kimberly Winnington.
With a goal those like the Oplinger’s can clearly see.
“We are giving it up for a reason. Knowing that there’s a future for the dog, and a supportive environment is great,” the pair said.
For more info on becoming part of the program you can head to the organization’s website.