As promised, Mummy went with her WHOLE family (actually a couple were missing but there were still 17 people), to visit the Israel Guide Dog Centre for the Blind in Beit Oved, yesterday, and boy did she have a great time.
They train Golden Retrievers (like Bridget), Labradors, German Shepherds and soon, Poodles, to be guide dogs for the blind. Mummy got to see Noach and Orna Braun who run the place and she hasn’t seen them since Bridget came home almost 14 years ago. They look exactly the same except Noach’s hair has gone from brown to white!
The centre has changed soooo much since Mummy was there. Back in 1995 it was just a few caravans and some dirt. Now it’s an amazing centre! The blind people spend three weeks in dorms there training with the dogs. The dogs first go through six months of training before meeting their new owners.
Mummy got to see the dorm rooms and feel all the different textures on the floors in the centre that help the blind people. Even the dorm bathrooms have bright yellow rails because apparently yellow is the last colour on the spectrum that people see when they’re going blind.
Then mummy got to visit the kennels where all the 12 month old pups are being trained. Oh my, they were so adorable. One looked so much like Bridget it made mummy cry. Then she went to the “Puppy Palace” where a mummy dog had just had babies on September 5. They were all so gorgeous and fast asleep! Mummy also saw two puppies that are about to go to their “puppy walker” homes – where they’ll be raised with families for a year before coming back to the centre to train. Hopefully these two won’t flunk out like Bridget did!
Mummy said it was good to hear that even today 4 out of 10 puppies don’t graduate to become guide dogs. Then they get to go back to their puppy walker owners (like Bridget did), or if the puppy walkers can’t take them back they go either to families with blind children, or to autistic children or art therapy teachers – someone who needs a great dog.
There was also a Koi pond, so that the blind people can put their hands in the pond and the fish will nibble their fingers – it’s a good tactile experience for them. And of course at the end of her tour, mummy and her family bought t-shirts, sweatshirts, bookmarks and hats from the gift shop.
Noach was amazing, mummy says. And now she and Noach are talking about helping raise awareness for the centre back in Los Angeles when she comes home. She can’t wait. Noach said a big thank you to mummy for raising funds in Bridget’s name so another family can raise a puppy walker.
Mummy took LOTS of pictures. She’s included some here as you can see. The rest you can check out on her flickr account here.