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Discussion Starter #1
The percentage The Seeing Eye provides is only 65% of seeing eye dogs in training pass all requirements, but the rest go into other services or live on as family pets.

I'm curious if anyone in the forum has personal experience or knows how any of those dogs are doing post career change.

Thanks in advance!
 

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I’m a guide dog mobility instructor at a comparative school..... not entirely sure what you’re asking? but I’m available to discuss.
 

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A friend is a service dog trainer and has kept a few who washed, but they are not German Shepherds. Her dogs make very good pets. They are low key, mellow dogs.
 

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@eddie1976
I looked up FIDELCO adoption fees, and wow. TSE dogs are only $1000.
@Fodder
I wanted to hear some first- or second-hand knowledge of how the dogs do in their new positions. I see a few veterans at the VA with some type of service dog--some not as well behaved as others. I can PM soon if that's a better way to communicate.
@LuvShepherds
Good to know! I know my fiance likes a mellow dog, but I think we could fit in a high energy one easily.
 

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@Fodder
Just interested in hearing first- or second-hand stories about the dogs that washed. Their temperament, trainability, activity level, etc.. Of course, at your discretion.
 

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I have had one in my class; a Labrador/Golden cross. The dog was like a zombie; all initiative trained out of him. He didn't have an association with toys and fun, he just lied at her feet. He was physically healthy but appeared to have an empty soul, no spark in his eyes. He did his work kinda like a robot. I don't know if other organizations train them with other methods though. I know from Europe that these dogs know the difference between work and play so that if they are off duty, they can be a dog; they are smart enough to know the difference.
A friend of mine had a breeding stallion that she also worked. He had a specific halter for taken out the barn for breeding and another one for going to work. He knew the difference very well.
 

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Well that’s unfortunate Wolfy but it’s hard to say, when judging a dog who did not make it as a guide, that his initiative was trained out of him... when that would be extremely counterproductive to the programs goals. Guide dogs need to have high initiative and the ability to make independent decisions in order to excell in their jobs. Perhaps his lack of initiative, motivation and work ethic is one of the reasons he did not succeed... also keeping in mind that genetically, things like scent / hunt / prey drive etc are going to be (or should be) significantly lower in dogs bred for guide work. Anyway... all speculation... in my experience with hundreds of career changes, the dog you describe is not typical.

At my organization there is not short of 20 different “drop codes” aside from medical in which a dog may be released from the program, most of things would typically go unnoticed to your average pet owner or at least would not be problematic in a pet home (surface avoidant, equipment sensitive, bird interest, alert barking, being solicitous, relieving in harness, even occasional cosmetic flaws that would draw too much public attention).

For the dogs who make the program - temperaments and energy levels vary considerably when you think that a fragile, petite, 90yr old woman who lives in the country would not have the same needs in a dog suited for a 20yr old athletic college student that travels thru New York City on a daily basis.

Our dogs know the difference between work and play but not all take advantage in the same way.... either way, downtime (dogtime) is emphasized in puppy raising, training, and also once issued.

When dogs are career changed they are evaluated and placed in the appropriate home or alternative line of work based on their temperament and taking into account their drop reason. Those sweet, sensitive, lower energy and easy to manage dogs may be placed with a blind child to help them prepare and transition to having a guide dog later in life.... those high energy, driven and pushy types will get snatched up by other organizations like search and rescue or with an adopter that is looking for an agility or running partner.

So to the OP.... all of that said, the majority of the dogs do well. The system is set up for them to do well. Be honest in what you’re looking for and that what they’ll attempt to place in your home.

Puppy raising however is a different ball game..... lots and lots of seemingly unnecessary rules, but believe me, there is a reason for them. If you are truly looking for a pet then I would explore adoption over puppy raising.

I am fine continuing the conversation here, but know that my PM box is also open to you as well.

Lastly - keep in mind that when you come across certain terms like “high prey drive”.... that typically means too high to be acceptable for a guide dog, compared to your standard GSD, most would consider these levels to be quite low.

Good luck!
 

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Also, I think the user is RangersMom or something similar..... if I’m not mistaken, she was a puppy raiser for the seeing eye and adopted Ranger from them.
 

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The vet tech where I take Rorie is a puppy raiser-she got one of the labs back that she trained-I think the reason she got the lab back was the dog did not seem happy with the work it was doing ...don't think 1000 is unreasonable to ask for a puppy-its supporting the program and you would pay more than that from a breeder most likely
 

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I thought it was standard practice for the puppy raiser to be given first option if the dog washed out. Am I wrong?
 

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I thought it was standard practice for the puppy raiser to be given first option if the dog washed out. Am I wrong?
It differs organization to organization. Because these dogs are bred for service, I believe working homes should get priority. Between all the schools - thousands of dogs don’t make it as guides... I feel it’s only responsible to seek out other lines of work, after all, there’s no shortage of adoptable pet dogs in the world. Our policy for career changes and retired guides is as follows:

Career changed:
- evaluated for our (in house) k9 buddy or ambassador program which provides dogs to blind youth or adopted by staff for demos & speaking engagements. (free / free)
- evaluated and offered to other (partnered) service dog organizations (free).
- offered to puppy raisers (free).
- “raiser to place”, raisers may place with approved close friends or family members (free).
- available for adoption to staff (free) / general public (suggested donation).

Retired guides:
(worked less than a year)
- same process as above
(worked over a year)
- offered to the graduate to keep or place.
- offered to raiser.
- available for adoption to staff or public.

Retired breeders:
(under the age of 3)
- evaluated to enter training
- offered to breeder custodian
- offered to puppy raiser
- available for adoption to staff or public
(over 3)
- offered to breeder custodian
- offered to puppy raiser
- available for adoption to staff or public

There are many reasons that a grad / raiser / or custodian may not be able to take a dog back despite being given first choice....For graduates it’s typically housing since the retired guide would be considered a pet, or, double the care if they live alone. For raisers it’s usually that they may already have a pet dogs or previous career changes and taking another would be too many dogs or may prevent them from being able to raise more puppies, etc. in my 7yrs of experience, breeder custodians almost always keep their dogs.
 

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This reminds me of a patient I had who was admitted to the ICU for a suicide attempt. It was a fairly young blind man. I heard something about a dog in the police in report. I called the police. Yes, the patient had a GSD when EMS came and the police had taken it to the city pound (Austin). I knew it was at that time a 3 day kill shelter. After work I went down and bailed out the dog and took him home.

The dog was far from what I imagined a guide dog for the blind would be! He counter surfed, tore into the garbage, chased my chickens., etc., did not seem well trained at all. After a couple of weeks the patient was stable enough to be transferred to a mental hospital. I called the mental hospital and asked them should I bring his guide dog. Yes! they said, please bring the dog. Iit will help with his recovery. So I took the rowdy dog up to his room in the elevator. As soon as the dog saw his master, he changed. He became the dog I had imagined. Quiet, dignified, he went to his master, turned and sat. The man reached out and felt for him, he felt the fur of his neck and he smiled. The German Shepherd guide dog sat and awaited his next command.
 

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I have met one seeing eye dog that flunked out of service training. He was adopted by an employee. The trainers felt the dog was too nervous for reliable service. Went on to become a fine family pet. As I was told, there is a long list of potential adopters. Most end up with employees of the seeing eye institute. Keep in mind, not many dogs flunk out.
 

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Nurse Bishop, that's amazing! I would not imagine that a guide dog would counter surf, etc.!

And then, the abrupt change when he was back with his handler...very interesting!
 

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Oh, this seeing eye GSD was definitely on vacation :) He was being a dog :D
 

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Nurse Bishop, that's amazing! I would not imagine that a guide dog would counter surf, etc.!

And then, the abrupt change when he was back with his handler...very interesting!
When not in harness a guide dog is a regular dog with all the same curiosities. They do make mistakes and need constant reinforcement. Franklin our black GSD is my husbands guide dog and when he’s not guiding he’s no different than any other dog. He’ll test your patience just the same 😂
 

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I often think it could be a handler/trainer issue rather than a dog not able to perform. One of my sisters best friends mother used to breed cocker spaniels, and when there was no longer a market for it, she started training service dogs. I started dating her son around the time she got her first pup. Went through 3 pups who could not pass the initial test. They kept two, not sure what they did with the third. But just watching the interaction with her and the dogs, it wasn’t hard for my 14yr old self to recognize the dogs were getting mixed signals from her.

Could very well just be a singular trainer circumstance, but I’ve often wondered about that. If a pup fails with the first family, so they just stop with the dog altogether, or do they try a new handler first?

She is the behavioral trainer at my vets office now. The vet kept encouraging me to bring my guys in to socialize and take the rally classes she is the trainer for, and I just couldn’t get over the past personal experiences with her. She was mean to everyone, including the pups she had for training. Makes me want to tell my vet to get a different trainer, but this was 20 something years ago, so maybe she’s changed. But I’ll always have that mean picture of her in my head.
 
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