About Wagner

Wagner was born on New Year's eve 2004 at the breeding station on the campus of the Seeing Eye in Morristown, New Jersey, and is a male golden retriever.  He is happiest when he's "working", and when he's got his harness and halter on, he shouldn't be petted or distracted. But he's such a lovable guy that everyone wants to pet him and feel how soft his ears are.

He also loves walking and running, and swimming in the ocean. There's a small beach along the seaside walking path by the desalinization plant in Curaçao where he runs at full gallop into the sea and swishes around in the water barking, as though he's calling out to the dolphins to come and play. It's a safe place (a blind or visually impaired person needs someone who is sighted to evaluate whether an area is safe for the dog to run loose) where he can take a short break from his duties.

Sometimes he'll encounter other dogs whose owners don't realize that when another dog is loose, they should drop the lead if their own dog is leashed, and allow the dogs to naturally socialize. If you keep them leashed, they are also "working" , protecting the owner, and a fight could ensue.

Wagner is making lots of friends on the island, but it's a challenge because of the cultural dynamics. A lot of people here are only accustomed to seeing stray street dogs or guard dogs and are naturally afraid of an animal the size of Waggie.  But if he's not in working mode and they get a chance to pet him, he wins them over very quickly. You can read about how Laura was introduced to Wagner here. And below you'll find more information about the Seeing Eye's Breeding and Puppy Raising Programs.

About The Seeing Eye

From Wikipedia:

The Seeing Eye, Inc. (TSE) is a guide dog school that is located in Morristown, New Jersey in the United States. It was founded in 1929 as the first guide dog school in the country. The dogs are trained to assist their owners and provide them with a means to be independent and to be able to get about as pedestrians in their communities without other assistance. The organization's trademark "seeing eye dog" is sometimes genericized as a ubiquitous term for guide dogs.

While living in Switzerland, an American dog trainer, Dorothy Harrison Eustis, was experimenting with the inclination and ability of German Shepherds to be used as working dogs. Eventually, she visited a school that was training German Shepherds to lead blinded World War I veterans.

Fascinated by what she had seen, she wrote an article entitled, "The Seeing Eye", about the school, which appeared in the November 5, 1927 edition of The Saturday Evening Post. Shortly thereafter she was contacted by a blind Tennessean man, Morris Frank, who enlisted her to train a dog for his use.

This effort eventually evolved into the Seeing Eye organization in Switzerland and America.[1]After 80 years of providing Independence and Dignity, The Seeing Eye remains the best known guide dog school in the world.

Most Seeing Eye dogs come from a breeding center located in nearby Chester, New Jersey. Primarily, they are German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, or Golden Retrievers. Some dogs are donated to the organization. Occasionally, The Seeing Eye also will train Labrador-Golden Retriever crosses, Boxers, or other breeds and mixes.

Puppies are raised by volunteers, primarily 4-H members, who are responsible for the basic obedience training and socialization of the dogs until they are 18 months old.

Formal training at the Seeing Eye campus lasts four months. This is where the dogs learn advanced obedience and skills such as pulling in harness, stopping at curbs, and "intelligent disobedience" to keep themselves and their handler safe from danger. After completing this training, the dogs spend up to a month training with their future human partners, before they are formally released. Most of the training with the future owner takes place in the community.

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