Cher Loose said she and her husband, Doug Loose, who run Loose Treasures, adopted Fisher so they can train him in basic commands. Leader Dogs for the Blind is a program that receives funding from the Lions Club, a program that gives guide dogs to the blind at no cost to them.
When a dog is between 12 and 15 months old, it will be taken to Rochester Hills to be trained as a guide dog for the blind, a process which typically lasts about three months, but before being taken, the dog has to be tested physically and mentally, Loose said.
If the dog doesn’t qualify to be a seeing-eye dog, it can go into breeding or can be service dog in some other capacity, and if that doesn’t work out, the dog is returned to the person that originally adopted it, Loose said, adding that the generosity on the part of both the Lions Club and the Leader Dog program inspired them to adopt a puppy.
“Doug and I, we joined the Lions Club, and we didn’t know what we could do because we have this store … we’re really busy,” said Loose. “They just do so much, so we thought, what can we do.”
Cher said that after deciding to adopt a puppy, she and Doug filled out an application and shortly thereafter got a letter stating they were accepted to raise a puppy, and would probably get one by the end of August, but that wasn’t soon enough for Cher.
After that, Cher called to ask if she could get a puppy sooner than August and was told that if one came up sooner she would be informed of it, which she was on Saturday, Dec. 27. Cher said she was told one would be available on Friday, Jan. 2.
One of the many great things the Lions Club does for the community is the testing of children to make sure they don’t have the potential to go blind, she said.
“The blind person or the disabled person pays nothing. The Lions Club or the Leader Dog association … pay for the disabled person to come there, to go to school with the dog for three months,” Loose said. “They pay for their housing, they pay for everything … We thought that was very generous, to help the disabled people like that.”
After the dog is trained for three months, the blind or disabled person gets the dog, which, when the dog reaches the end of its working life, is replaced with another dog, said Loose. As a guide dog, Fisher will have to stay on a leash and harness whenever he’s outside, added Loose.
The Looses are working very hard with Fisher, and Cher thinks he’ll be a great guide dog, as he isn’t too aggressive. Currently, they are teaching him commands such as sit, stay, stand, heel, and park. Cher said park is a command that has a specific meaning for guide dogs.
“When he has to go to the bathroom, we say ‘park,’ and Fisher parks, and we always take him to the same place every time and go out the same door every time, so he gets used to knowing what park means,” Loose said. “He’ll have to park on command.”
Black Labrador Retrievers, Yellow Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds are all raised by the Leader Dog organization to be guide dogs for te blind, she said.
Fisher comes from a litter of about six puppies, and his mother and father are Codie, a yellow Labrador Retriever, and Casey, a black Labrador Retriever, and both were guide dogs, Loose said.