Sightmasters is a non-profit, puppy raising club in Washington County, Oregon. Our mission is to nurture and socialize puppies in preparation for guide dog training. We are currently the largest puppy-raising club in Oregon. Our club averages 15 to 25 puppies each year, ranging in age from 8 weeks to 16 months. We raise the puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc. (GDB) located in Boring, Oregon.
Individuals and families who are interested in raising a guide dog puppy apply for a volunteer position with GDB called a puppy raiser. They first submit an application to their local GDB puppy club leader. The club leader screens the potential raiser and, if accepted, receives an eight-week-old puppy. The raiser agrees to nurture and love the puppy, provide a safe home environment, use approved training techniques, and socialize the puppy in the community, developing the skills and habits needed for formal guide training.
Our primary goal is to raise a well-adjusted and well-behaved young dog. Part of our job is to train the puppies in basic obedience. This prepares the pups for their future guide training and eventually as working guides. Our club meets once a month for all puppies, ages 8 weeks to 16 months old. This primary obedience meeting is the largest. We also have an additional training session once a month for puppies that are 8 weeks to 5 months old. Both meetings are held all year.
Another part of our job is to socialize the puppies that we raise. This gives the pups exposure to all types of sights, sounds, smells, and people. We plan two social outings each month, expecting the raiser and their puppy to attend at least one of the outings. Social outings include, but are not limited to, hockey games, concerts, restaurants, Japanese and Rose Gardens, skate parks, museums, and riding mass transit.
Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc. is a non-profit organization that is privately funded. GDB has helped thousands of blind people travel more safely and independently with the use of a dog guide. Thousands of volunteer puppy raisers nurture and socialize puppies in preparation for guide training. The puppies return to the Guide Dog campus at fourteen to sixteen months of age. Puppies that complete the extensive health checks, testing, and training are matched with a blind person. The dog and blind person team then train together at the campus from two to four weeks. All services to the blind are provided free of charge.