Harvard, a Guide Dog for the Blind

Even though we had to say good-bye to Harvard, this story isn’t sad. Harvard is still very much alive, and our pain at having to part with him was softened by our knowledge that he has a great destiny ahead of him as a guide dog for the blind.

The guide dog group that bred Harvard believes that family-raised puppies turn out much better than kennel-raised pups. So they farm out all their beautiful puppies –golden retrievers, German shepherds, and labradors like Harvard– to volunteer families. And our young son volunteered.

So Harvard was brought to us, his puppy-raising family, when he was just 7 weeks old — a tiny tornado of sleek black fur, weighing only about 10 pounds.

Seventeen months and 70 rambunctious pounds later, after our son had taught him his basic obedience (sit! rest! down!), and we’d all learned to love him, Harvard was taken back to Guide Dog School for his specialized training.

And there, to our amazement, our loopy lab learned how to walk calmly in harness, how to gently “pull” a blind human around obstacles, how to cross streets safely. He just graduated with flying colors, and is now ready to be matched up with his new human.

So we’ll never get to see our wacky, silly, happy-tailed Harvard again — because once he’s bonded with his new owner, there can be no more contact with his puppy-raising family.

But we do have something to look forward to: After he’s settled in with his new human, we’ll get a letter telling us a little about that new owner, and how Harvard helps him or her to have a better life. We can hardly wait to get that letter!

(By the way, the name “Harvard” was chosen by the guide dog organization — if I’d had my druthers, Mark, I would’ve named him “Hillsdale” !)

Here’s a photo of Harvard doing his beseeching act. That’s the goofy look he’d put on whenever he thought he might be able to finagle a treat.

Joyce from NJ

One Response

  1. Jess Says:

    Gosh, there are so many dogs and puppies like Harvard in shelters and rescue groups that would make wonderful guide dogs! It is possible to both save a dog’s life and find a wonderful service dog at the same time.

    For example, Dogs For the Deaf has been choosing their service dogs from shelters for many years and it is a wonderful success.