Puppies on Buses

The Guide Dogs for the Blind’s puppies in training took a field trip to The County Connection on April 4th to practice entering and exiting the bus via ramps and lifts. Their County Connection guide, Abel Herrera revved the engine, honked the horn, and used the air brakes to also help the puppies get used to the sounds. Erik Miller, Mechanic II, led the group on a tour of the maintenance department, then they saved the best for last…a ride through the bus wash. The trainers enjoyed it. The dogs didn’t seem to mind.

The field trip is an annual event, arranged by, Susan Oranje, co-leader of the Contra Costa County Puppy Raising Club, with two special guests this year, Tami Shankle, Regional Community Field Representative, and her “distraction dog” named Taz. Taz enjoyed his job playing fetch, while Ms. Shankle instructed the trainers on how to teach the puppies to stay still.

“Learning how to use public transit is a requirement all puppies must master before graduating to become seeing eye dogs,” said Oranje. “The dogs have to help their partner board the bus and be seated without becoming distracted by other passengers or vehicle sounds.”

“This is one of my favorite groups that visit County Connection,” said Marie Knutson, Community Relations. “They are an amazingly dedicated group and fun to watch. Tami was like “the dog whisperer”—very knowledgeable, with great tips on how to help the puppies succeed.”

For more information call the Canine Community Programs office at Guide Dogs for the Blind at 800-295-4050 or visit www.guidedogs.com.