Guide Dogs for the Blind delivers puppies to student volunteers (Source: KCBD)
Guide Dogs for the Blind donated Jax to Ronald McDonald House (Source: KCBD)
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -
A big day for Texas Tech students who added a member to their family.
Some students were chosen to foster puppies until they become old enough to be trained by Guide Dogs for the Blind.
The puppies are just eight weeks old and if they do well throughout the training, they could end up helping the visually impaired.
One of the dogs trained by Guide Dogs for the Blind is now working with the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Southwest to help bring smiles to people's faces when they need it the most.
"I don't know how he does it, but he always goes to the person in the room that needs it the most," said President and CEO of the RMHC of the Southwest, Dina Jeffries.
Jeffries said Guide Dogs for the Blind gifted Jax to them about a year ago.
Jax has since earned the the title "Chief Cheer Officer," which is fitting because when we met up with Jax he was bringing a huge smile to 3-year-old Braelei Givens' face.
"She just seems like she doesn't have a care in the world," said Braelei's mother, Tristin Givens.
The Givens family is from Snyder, but they are staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Lubbock until Braelei's little sister is released from the NICU.
"I'm sure this is very tough for her to go through at such a young age, but when Jax comes around I see the light in her eyes, and it's like I don't have anything to worry about, everything is going to be okay," Tristin said.
A feeling Guide Dogs for the Blind wants others to have, which is why they delivered four puppies to student volunteers at Texas Tech.
"Its absolutely a huge responsibility," said Sandi Alsworth with Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Alsworth said the students will take the dogs with them to class, restaurants, work, and grocery stores.
"Every place that a visually impaired person lives their life is what we expose these dogs to prior to their return to guide dogs for their formal training," Alsworth said.
The puppies are delivered to students at 8 weeks and then at about 18 months the students return the dogs to the organization for the formal training, which Alsworth said usually takes about 12 to 14 weeks.
Guide Dogs for the Blind is located in California.
If the dog successfully completes the training there, it will be assigned to someone who is visually impaired.
The student who helped raise the dog is then invited to attend that placement ceremony.
Alsworth said their dogs go wherever they are needed.
"While it's sad saying goodbye, you can tell that they have a bigger purpose in their life," said Texas Tech graduate student and Guide Dogs for the Blind volunteer, Kaitlyn Beckert.
Beckert has already raised one puppy, who is now receiving formal training with Guide Dogs for the Blind.
She recently moved to Lubbock for graduate school and made this partnership between Texas Tech and Guide Dogs for the Blind a reality.
She is now raising her second puppy.
"They are basically heroes," she said.
Guide Dogs for the Blind said their standards are very high and not all dogs are cut out for that job.
Some dogs who are well behaved, but not a good fit for the visually impaired, go on to have other jobs like therapets.
For more information on this nonprofit organization to get involved, click here.
To learn more about Lone Star Guide Dog Raisers, the organization that helps raise puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind, click here.