What feels like an eternity but was in fact only three years ago my family became involved in a program that would change our lives, becoming Puppy Carers for Seeing Eye Dogs (SED) - a division of Vision Australia.
It was in June 2018 that we received our first SED puppy, Jethro, a gorgeous black Labrador puppy. He came to Hume for his first visit and promptly fell ill while I was on Year 4 Camp, but then managed to come in for his first day at school the following week. On his way in, he smelt every possible thing, tried to eat morsels of food off the ground and wanted to go everywhere other than my classroom.
As many would know, Jethro went through the Puppy Program with flying colours and was accepted into the SEDs breeding program. He sired five litters, equating to over 40 puppies, all black, regardless of the colouring of their mother. Many of his characteristics came through in his puppies, being confident, cuddly and most definitely their love of food. We have been told that there are a few of them who are now going through formal training to graduate as a Seeing Eye Dog.
Back in November 2020, we were told that Jethro was having a change in career and had been accepted into formal training. Interestingly, he went into training with his first litter, so they got to hang out with their Dad which is something that rarely ever happens when the dogs are in kennels for training.
In March 2021, we got the phone call from his Instructor that he had passed all his assessments and had completed the formal training….and of course, being the Grade A student he is, he finished the course nearly 4 weeks earlier than the others. He was matched a client and was ready to meet and start their class/training together, however, due to certain circumstances, it was delayed by a few weeks and we were fortunate to have him in our home for a short while before he started in early May.
On Friday, 21 May we got news that he had officially graduated with his client and the two are now happily navigating the world together as they start to bond and become lifelong friends. One of the beautiful outcomes of this, is that Jethro is the client’s first Seeing Eye Dog so the amount of freedom and independence she will have now, has completely changed her life.
While it was hard to say goodbye to Jethro, we knew that this was the reason we got involved with this wonderful program – to make a difference in someone’s life and give back to the community.
And so, it is with a huge amount of gratitude that as a family we say thank you to the students I have taught over the last few years when Jethro has been in the classroom, all of my colleagues and the wider School community who has supported us in what has been a wonderful journey with Jethro.
We are now raising our 5th full-time puppy and look forward to continuing to introduce new puppies to the school community and giving them the best opportunity to succeed as Jethro has done.
Thank you again.