PEOPLE’s Guide-Dog-at-Large is getting big, which means graduation is approaching. But before Murphy can get his doggie diploma from Guiding Eyes for the Blind and be placed with his handler, he still has a few more important hurdles to jump.
The most recent of these was his “In for Training” test. In this 10 to 15-minute test, guide dog trainees are brought into a room set up with different kinds of stimuli: loud noises, distractions hanging from the ceiling, vacuum cleaners, enticing toys.
Each dogs gets several minutes to roam around the room freely examining the interesting objects, and they are guided through the exposure to each of the stimuli in a set order — so it’s the same for each dog.
After watching the dog complete the tests, Guiding Eyes for the Blind professionals grade each dog with a scoring system call the Behavior Checklist. The system is designed to reward trainees who confidently handle environmental stimuli, stay calm, are not overly sensitive to their harness, do not get distracted and have good social manners.
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Of course, our no-longer-a-puppy-not-quite-a-man Murphy passed with flying colors and is one step closer to giving newfound freedom to a visually-impaired person.
To learn more about Guiding Eyes for the Blind and how to support the organization’s work with dogs like Murphy, visit guidingeyes.org.