Doug Stroud and his puppy trainee, Nikki, practice sitting and staying while Wendy Caywood and Dora supervise at the Amazing Puppy Race (Nicole Crescenzi/ News Staff)

WATCH: Soon-to-be guide dogs take part in the Amazing Puppy Race

10 puppies training to be guide dogs took part in a social Easter egg hunt

Esquimalt was the playground for a fun and furry event: the Amazing Puppy Race.

The race was held by BC & Alberta Guide Dogs as a socialization and training day for 10 puppies who are just wrapping up their first phase of training to be certified guide dogs. Trainers followed clues to find Easter eggs, while the puppies practiced their lessons at each stop.

“This event gets the puppy trainers out working together and working on the pups working around each other, as well as doing a lot of socialization,” said Samantha Jagt, puppy training supervisor. “Some of our clues that we have for them to unscramble would be to have a polite greeting with a stranger while the stranger is wearing a mask… as well as going into grocery stores and making sure they’re comfortable.”

Other clues had puppies and their trainers wait at bus stops, follow simple obstacles while there’s a distracting ball being kicked around and staying calm while a stranger tries to pet them.

READ MORE:B.C. Guide dogs is looking for volunteer puppy raisers

Currently, the puppies are living and training with volunteers and attending obedience classes at least twice a month.

Puppy raising volunteers take care of the dogs from the time they are eight weeks old until they’re around 18 months. At that point, the dogs are returned to BC & Alberta Guide Dogs and assessed to see if they’re ready to begin their advanced training to go into one of the three official programs: the guide dog program, the autism support program and the compassion dogs program for PTSD service dogs. The programs service Vancouver Island, the Mainland and Calgary.

If they don’t make the cut, the pups go through a “career change” and can be adopted out into one of two pet programs, either for young children with autism or for families, though in this case the volunteer puppy raisers get the first right to refusal. Some dogs may also be considered for the breeding program.

Carol Stroud is raising a puppy named Runa, who is currently 17 months old and being considered for the breeding program. Stroud’s husband, Doug Stroud is raising Runa’s niece, Nikki.

“We have the two of them in the house, that’s a lot of dogs,” Carol Stroud said. “It is very challenging. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves in terms of how we do things, about patience, and about progress and regression but it’s been a very valuable experience for us.”

ALSO READ:New dog greeter at Fairmont Empress is spreading smiles

Stroud said having these kinds of outings is an important way to reinforce the training the dogs have received.

“I’m always interested in the application of what we’re learning ,” she said. “We want to be able to practice in a real world setting, so it’s fun to have a challenge of the little roadblock in a confined area, especially around other dogs.”

Stroud said they know the day is coming up when they need to give Runa back, but they’re ready.

“We think it will be a hard thing, but it’s not about us. We didn’t sign on to have a dog for life, we’ signed on to be part of this process and we’re prepared to move on to that next phase when she goes on to her next family,” Stroud said. “I’d absolutely recommend it. It’s 24/7, but it’s a huge impact for us in terms of what we’ve been learning and in what we can offer to someone else.

Stroud added that if Runa does end up going into the breeding program, that she’d be hard pressed to not volunteer to raise one of her puppies in the future.

Currently, BC & Alberta Guide dogs has 23 volunteers on the Island, but more are always needed. For more information you can visit bcandalbertaguidedogs.com

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


Send a Tweet: @NicoleCrescenzi

Like us on Facebook  

 

Volunteers for the BC & Albuerta Guide Dogs pose with the puppies they are training after a Amazing Puppy Race. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Runa (front) and Pixie relax before the Amazing Puppy Race begins. (Nicole Crescenzi/ News Staff)

Just Posted

SidFest 7 ready to rock the Mary Winspear Centre

The Bankes Brothers and Madrona Drive headlining May 24 concert

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

Mad Hatter’s Ball offers laughs in support of Boys and Girls Club

Annual fundraising event features improv performances at McPherson Playhouse May 24

Penelakut filmmaker Steve Sxwithul’txw finds success in film and TV

Cop-turned-storyteller reaches back to his past for Tribal Police Files

Choir offers a capella take on Beatles hits

Soundings will perform concerts in Oak Bay and Sidney May 24 and 25

VIDEO: Horseshoe pitching association appeals to Greater Victora youngsters

Youth horseshoe pitching club offers fun for all ages, says GVHPA

Canadian killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Mother dead, child in critical condition after carbon monoxide poisoning at Shuswap campground

The woman was found unresponsive insider her tent and the youth was taken via air ambulance to hospital

Canada’s parole officers say correctional system has reached breaking point

About half of Canada’s federal parole officers work inside penitentiaries and correctional institutions

Montreal researchers create audible hockey puck for visually impaired players

Three years ago, Gilles Ouellet came up with the idea for a puck that makes a continuous sound

Vancouver Island MusicFest: ‘House bands’ from the golden age of rock and R&B

Some of America’s greatest session musicians are coming to the Comox Valley this summer

Former B.C. Greyhound bus drivers head to Penticton for goodbye party

Big bash runs until Sunday, funded by drink cans left behind on busses over the years

Boy, 12, arrested after allegedly pulling a knife on another child at a Surrey park

The child was later released into his parents’ custody as Surrey RCMP continue their investigation

Most Read