Guiding Eyes Puppies Leave Old Lyme

Video > Go online to watch a video of the puppies at 6.5 weeks.

Old Lyme - The five German shepherd puppies that started out as 2.5-week-old squirmy caterpillar-like fuzzies left Janet Cody's home on June 3 with ears that were starting to perk up, sharp puppy teeth that would gnaw at anything in sight, and the ability to understand the concept of sitting, laying down, and standing.

Cody, who cared for the puppies for five weeks for Guiding Eyes for the Blind, said she always felt some relief at the end of her time as a Home Litter Care volunteer. The German shepherds were her fourth time caring for a Guiding Eyes litter.

"You realize, 'I can't give all these puppies all they need now,'" Cody said the day before the puppies' departure.

What the puppies now need is individual training. Back at the whelping kennel in Patterson, N.Y., the puppies will be sent to various volunteers' homes for "home socialization" before undergoing a test to determine which puppies should proceed with guide-dog training and which dogs would be better suited for other careers or for lives as household pets.

Cody will travel back to New York for the puppies' test today and see for herself which puppy passes and which puppy, for lack of a better word, fails. Briefly reunited with the gang, Cody said she would probably scoop them up and wish them luck - "You just do your best," she'll say - before letting them do their thing.

"I say prayers for them all," Cody said.

She's learned with past litters that there's no telling which puppies will make it. What seemed like a confident puppy within the confines of her home and with its littermates may not pass Guiding Eyes' strict standards to receive further training.

The estimated 8-minute test is designed to be fun for the puppy but enlightening for Guiding Eyes staff, who will look for clues that the puppy before them is a confident one. The puppy will, among other things, walk on grated and wobbly surfaces and encounter an open umbrella, mechanical plush toys that pop up and flying objects, Guiding Eyes' regional coordinator Valerie Hazlin said.

If the litter's three girls - Berta, Bliss, and Brandy - make it, Cody hopes to return home with one of them to raise for the next year-and-a-half. Iowa, the Labrador retriever that Cody is currently raising for Guiding Eyes, is due back sometime this week.

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