Guiding Eyes Moves One STEP Ahead with Plans for a New Canine Development Center

World's First Puppy Prep School Set to Redefine the Future of Guide Dog Breeding and Training

Sep 30, 2011, 16:36 ET from Guiding Eyes for the Blind

YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y., Sept. 30, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a global leader in elite guide dog breeding and training, is on a mission to build the world's first "puppy prep school." The state-of-the-art Canine Development Center (CDC) will change the way guide dogs and autism service dogs are trained to fulfill their destiny. The school recently previewed plans for an $8 million construction program to transform the Center, located in Patterson, N.Y., into a one-of-a-kind puppy training facility.

The project prepares Guiding Eyes for an increased demand for guide dogs by baby boomers, the first of which turn 65 in 2011. Built using "green" construction practices, the new CDC will provide the space needed to train more future guide dogs. Highlights include a puppy training pavilion, expanded kennels, open living areas, outdoor areas for "off-leash" exercise, multiple early socialization rooms, and dedicated instructional space for volunteers. The Center will also accommodate the school's increased need for more volunteers, whose participation is critical to teaching pups-in-training to trust people, a critical step in the pups' early development. Spaces are appropriately designed to support puppies' physical and cognitive needs, with internal and external environments changing as the puppies move through their developmental cycles.

The project's campaign title, "One STEP Ahead," is derived from the school's proprietary puppy training program, STEP, which stands for Successive Training and Enrichment Program. Two years of research and study resulted in a new training approach that builds healthy, mutual one-on-one relationships between puppies and people.

"Nowhere is the human-canine bond more powerful than in a Guiding Eyes team," explained the school's President and CEO Bill Badger. "STEP provides the critical foundation for the many human interactions puppies experience on their way to becoming guide dogs and produces more intelligent, social and healthier dogs."

"The One STEP Ahead campaign and our STEP program signify defining moments in the history of guide dog training," said Lisa Deutsch, Guiding Eyes' VP for Marketing and Development. "Thanks to the incredible generosity of our campaign donors and with further help from the public, we will ensure that Guiding Eyes remains at the forefront of excellence and innovation in the field of guide and service dog schools worldwide."

A $1 million gift from the Arthur and Phyllis Milton Foundation is the catalyst for Guiding Eyes going public with its fundraising campaign. Early fundraising enabled the school to complete "Phase I" of the project, which renovated and expanded the CDC's whelping kennels. In order to continue construction, Guiding Eyes is now reaching out to the public to secure the additional funds needed to resume construction in 2013.

"Guiding Eyes is an organization whose work has truly touched our hearts," said Phyllis Milton. "The school does so much more than provide guide dogs to the blind. They empower students to fulfill their true potential through the gift of independence."

Wayne and Mary Hockmeyer also made major campaign donations for both Phase I and Phase II of the construction project.  "We have seen what a difference this organization makes," said Mary Hockmeyer. "Guiding Eyes dogs have hearts of gold and touch lives in immeasurable, priceless ways. You can really tell what an impact each dollar makes."

Guiding Eyes for the Blind is located in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. They can be reached at 914.245.4024 or by visiting http://www.guidingeyes.org. For information on the numerous donation opportunities available, contact Lisa Deutsch at ldeutsch@guidingeyes.org or 914 243 4340.

SOURCE Guiding Eyes for the Blind



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