Washington Primary School third graders enjoyed a real treat when a guide dog recently visited the building. The youngsters learned about how such animals are trained and for what purpose and they were able to interact with the friendly pooch.
The visit was coordinated by teachers Tina Balducci and Susan Turner. Class member Jamyn Husselbeck’s mother, Shannon is involved in training guide dogs for those who need such assistance. The Husselbeck family adopted and has been training a guide dog by the name of Brie.
Mrs. Husselbeck came to Washington and brought along Brie for a PowerPoint presentation in the school gym. She explained the process of training such an animal and why guide dogs are needed.
Mrs. Husselbeck has been working with America’s VetDogs, a project of the Guide Dog Foundation. She’s been training Brie to help someone who is visually impaired.
“The service dog programs of America’s VetDogs were created to provide enhanced mobility and renewed independence to veterans, active-duty service members and first responders with disabilities, allowing them to once again live with pride and self-reliance,” according to the organization’s website. “Not only does a service dog provide support with daily activities, it provides the motivation to tackle new challenges.”
America’s VetDogs trains the dogs for those who are blind or have insufficient vision, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorders, late life hearing impairments or are physically disabled. The dogs are also used at military and Veterans Administration hospital during the rehabilitation process.
“It costs over $50,000 to breed, raise, train and place one assistance dog; however, all of VetDogs’ services are provided at no charge to the individual,” according to the organization. “Funding comes from the generosity of individuals, corporations, foundations, businesses and service and fraternal clubs.”
The Washington third graders quickly fell in love with Brie, who made herself right at home in the school gym. “The third grade students were an excellent audience and loved the presentation,” Ms. Balducci said.