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The Essex County Puppy Club ( "EYES OF HOPE") is chapter of the Seeing Eye Puppy Project. The club actively participates in raising puppies for the Seeing Eye. The Eye Of Hope Club also organizes events and activities outside of training to further expose the pups to environments they will be expected to work as adult dog quides.

The club has more than 50 puppy raising families.

SEEING EYE & CLUB

The Seeing Eye, Inc. is the oldest guide dog school in the United States having been established in 1929. In 1942 it joined forces with 4-H Youth Development program, placing puppies in 4-H homes in Morris County to be raised until they were old enough to begin their formal training as guide dogs for the blind.

The Essex County club was started in 1970 and now has 40 to 50 members raising puppies each year. The members are both children and adults from Essex County and nearby Union County. Seeing Eye breeds German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and a cross between a Labrador and a Golden. Once the puppies are seven weeks old they are placed with the puppy raiser and live with them until they are about 16 to 18 months old. During this time the puppy raiser is responsible for teaching house manners, basic obedience and exposing the pup to as many different situations as possible. Training sessions are held twice a month and field trips are scheduled to provide the necessary exposure. The Essex Club provides train rides, a tour of Newark Airport, Newark Bear’s baseball games, trips to Liberty Science center, mall walks, a beach party, parade participation and an overnight trip among other events. All of these things provide exposure so important to the puppies development. They are also fun for the puppy raising families. One family member is usually responsible for raising the puppy but it really is a family project. Everyone in the family helps provide love, attention and discipline.

The puppy will be returned tot the Seeing Eye at about 16 to 18 months and then, if all goes well, will begin formal training, learning how to guide. Hopefully at the end of the training period the dog will be matched with a blind individual helping provide independence and dignity.
By this time many of our puppy raisers are busy raising their next furry charge. Some of the members can only raise one puppy but many stay to raise puppy after puppy. But, no matter how many they raise, each family is very important to us.

Meetings are held the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month at 7p.m. in Roseland Municipal Building all purpose room, 19 Harrison Avenue, Roseland, NJ.