LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) — Students at New Mexico State University are working their tails off to help train puppies to guide the blind.
About 40 NMSU students raise guide dogs for the non-profit organization Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB). The students, known as ‘Puppy Raisers,’ work to train the puppies to serve those who are visually impaired, saying they are the only university that offers the program in New Mexico.
Puppy Raisers say training the guide dogs is different from training dogs as pets. They must teach them special ways for the dogs to respond to their owners and how to not get distracted from outside stimuli, whether it be people or other dogs.
The puppies arrive from the organization’s home base to NMSU at eight weeks old and stay for anywhere from one to two years before graduating.
“When they leave us they go back to campus, they have two campuses one in San Rafael, California and a second in Boring, Oregon. They return to campus for about three months, where they go through mobility work and after that they’ll get placed in with their person who’s visually impaired and they can go all over the U.S. and Canada to guide,” NMSU Puppy Raiser Melanie Coleman explained to KTSM.
Since the program began in 2018, two dogs trained at NMSU graduated in November 2019 and are now officially with their new owners.
The students say they spend a lot of money out-of-pocket to provide food, grooming supplies, and training equipment for the puppies. If you’d like to help supply the NMSU guide dog project, CLICK HERE to donate.