NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Dozens of dogs took over Newark Liberty Airport Saturday, but this was no ordinary “dog day afternoon” – these were seeing-eye dogs taking part in their training day.
Practice makes perfect, especially when you’re a pup. Learning to sit is just the start in a lifetime of helping and support.
“It’s a really good feeling to know that I’m helping somebody who needs help and who needs a dog,” 11-year-old volunteer Hannah said.
Hannah is one of the youngest volunteers with The Seeing Eye – an organization based in Morris County that trains dogs to help visually impaired people with all kinds of tasks.
Teaching basic obedience and socialization, she’s working with six-month-old Hachie. Their goal on Saturday was to get used to crowds in public places.
“We’re walking around getting them used to all the sounds and a lot of people,” the young volunteer explained.
It’s not such an easy task at a busy airport like Newark. There are all the stairs, the escalators. and of course all those overwhelmed baggage carousels.
“We go down to the baggage. We walk around the little baggage rack so when they’re placed with their blind person they’re comfortable with what they might be exposed to,” Maryann Debine from The Seeing Eye said.
These dogs are anywhere between a couple months and a couple years old and there’s about 80 of them training this weekend for their new careers.
Retrievers, poodles, or shepherds – no matter the breed – the seeing-eye dogs also undergo other training with specialized instructors.
Most will graduate and be matched with a person right around the time they turn two. At that point, they’ll live the rest of their lives making someone else’s better.