Puppy club preps guide dogs for training

first_img Guiding Eyes of Clark CountyGuide Dogs for the BlindAngelina is one cool pup.Mellow. Reliable. Quick. Careful. And ready for more or less anything.“I knew I needed a dog that could go anywhere. From sidewalks to cattle trails,” said Jake Koch, a graduate of the Washington State School for the Blind, who’s been putting Angelina through her paces for about six months now.Koch, 23, is an outdoorsy guy who grew up in a tiny Washington town. He’s young, active and ambitious — working full time as an adviser at Clark College and planning to study management at Portland State University this fall — but he likens his eyesight to peering through a pinhole.He was born with bilateral micro-ophthalmalgia, which basically means small, undeveloped eyeballs. So Angelina serves as his eyes.Meaning what? It’s more than just getting from curb to curb. Angelina is on the lookout for obstructions and problems of all sorts, from low-hanging branches to unsafe commands. She’s comfortable in restaurants and grocery stores. Her manners are impeccable; she doesn’t bark, climb furniture or eat off the floor. And she definitely doesn’t chase cats.To score this highly skilled job, the Labrador retriever underwent two stages of training — first via a local puppy club and the homes of volunteers, where preliminaries like potty training and basic obedience were covered, and then at the Guide Dogs for the Blind training campus in Boring, Ore.Meanwhile, Koch was doing research and soul-searching of his own. “How will this dog fit into my lifestyle? How do I get help and support if there are problems?” Deciding to depend upon a guide dog means “going out on a huge limb,” he said. Angelina has been with Jake Koch for about six months. Volunteers are needed for the first phase of training guide dogs.last_img read more