I am writing a personal post this week to share my thrilling first tour of the new campus that I took with Dennis and my guide dog Dinka. It is hard to believe that only last December we were standing amid rubble and dirt on the East Side pouring spadefuls of concrete into a hole in the ground at the festive cornerstone laying ceremony. It is now eight months later and the East Side has been transformed into a state-of-the-arts guide dog school training and puppy development campus!
We began the tour at the place where the sidewalk of the present campus joins the new path leading to the new campus. Here there will be a statue of a Labrador retriever and a dog memorial garden, and a new tree is already growing in the area.
|The New Kennel Building|
|Outdoor yeard in the new kennels|
|The simulated crosswalk with stoplight|
|Path to the new campus|
|The New Kennels|
|Walkway connectying the old and new campus|
We continued on to the dog exercise run where there is a lawn and a safe fenced in area for dogs to run free. This is a great area for trainees to practice letting their dogs off leash and teaching them recall as well as letting them relax and have fun.
The training campus includes a new obstacle course with a shaded area for hot summer days or rainy weather, and a simulated crosswalk where trainees can learn how to navigate a city crosswalk and stoplight before they experience the real thing with traffic in town. Dinka stopped neatly at the crosswalk and then had fun running through the elaborate maze – a challenging game for dogs to learn recall and find their way back to their handlers.
The old puppy house is now converted into an elaborate breeding facility with modern rooms and equipment for mother dogs to give birth and remain with their litters until the puppies are ready to leave for their adopted families. Dinka eagerly explored the new kennels and building with its yards adjoining every two cells in the kennel.
The staff is currently getting organized to handle the additional work that the new kennels and additional dogs will entail, including hiring an additional staff member to help with dog care in the kennels.
There are many expressions of thanks to convey to many people, and we hope that many friends, donors, and supporters will be with us to dedicate the new campus next April!
In other news, last Thursday the staff bid a fond farewell to four of the six National Community service workers who have been an inseparable and valuable part of life at the Center: Inbar and Haviva left us after two years of dedicated work in the kennels, and Shani and Hilla who also worked in the kennels left after working with us for the past year. Vered and Eden will remain with us. Each of the young women received a gift of a framed photo with one of the dogs she cared for, and there were many tears of sadness at the parting. We wish to extend our sincere thanks to these young women for their dedicated work, and wish them all best of luck and success in whatever they pursue in the future!