Teens take on Guide Dog project
On July 13 at the Guide Dog Fun Day at the Guide Dogs for the Blind’s San Rafael campus two Ponderosa High School juniors, Lexie Padilla and Gina Phillipsen, heard their names called at the puppy distribution ceremony.
It was the largest distribution of guide dog puppies in Guide Dogs for the Blind history. Lexie and Gina submitted their application to co-raise a puppy; however, club leader Kim Burkhardt told the girls that they would not receive a puppy for a while because there were no more available. Kim, Sherry (Gina’s mom and Denise (Lexie’s mom) decided to surprise them! Lexie and Gina received a male yellow Lab named Lloyd, who is being trained to be a service guide dog to assist the blind and visually impaired.
As a volunteers for Guide Dogs for the Blind, Lexie and Gina’s job is to socialize, house train and teach Lloyd basic commands for about a 14 months until he’s ready to be paired with an owner. And because the dog cannot be left alone for more than one hour, the busy students have to take Lloyd with them everywhere they go — class, work and social events.
“It’s a little like having a child. You really can’t leave the dog,” Gina said. “If you want to go out of town or have a test and think it’s not going to behave, you need to get a babysitter.”