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Guide Dogs for the Blind

By Les Besser

Peggy and Bill Sproul with Africa and Nandy.After reading this paragraph, cover your eyes and imagine your life without any sense of sight. Imagine you’ve grown up without light or colors. You have no idea what anything in the world looks like.

Then one day, you are introduced to a furry four-legged creature that gradually becomes an extension of you, helping you function like never before. Your life is transformed!

LCG residents Peggy and Bill Sproul lost the family dog while their children were still young. They decided to wait a while before replacing it. Waiting took them down an entirely new path. Peggy went on a tour that included a visit to the Guide Dogs for The Blind Institute in Northern California. The program impressed her, and she relayed her experience to Bill; they concluded that fostering a dog would be a way to discover if they were ready to have a dog again.

They enrolled in the institute’s program, and with dedicated work, they both passed the training, evaluations, testing, and trial. At the conclusion of the program, they received an eight-week-old puppy that became part of their lives. Successful puppy candidates train with their foster families for 16 months. The dogs remain with their host family around the clock, including trips to restaurants, movies, and shopping, as well as obedience training. The dogs learn to ignore all other animals and are trained to socialize with outsiders only when permitted.

During the next 17 years, Peggy and Bill fostered dog after dog; some graduated as guide dogs, some were adopted as pets, and one of their puppies even became a breeder for the Institute. The Sprouls now share their home with two “retired” guide dogs, Africa and Nandy. They are easy to spot at our dog park— because of their training, they keep to themselves.

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