To share the importance of service animals with students, Ms. Judi Paxton, a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs of America, visited her son, Mr. Jeffery Ball as well as the POST/PACE programs. 

“[My favorite part is] seeing the students that really want to learn,” Paxton said. “[I hope students gain] more knowledge on the work that a service animal is required to do and respecting that animal for their work.”

Guide Dogs of America is one of many organizations that helps provide seeing eye dogs to the handicapped and disabled.

“There’s [also] Guide Dogs of the Blind, Guide Dogs of the Desert, and Canine Companions for Independence,” Paxton said. “I was lucky enough to get involved in Guide Dogs of America.”

Kaia, a 16-month old service dog, travels with Paxton during her normal errands– to work, the doctor’s office, restaurants and even hospitals. Socialization is important for Kaia while she is raised as a service dog.

“She is from Guide Dogs of America and bred that way,” Paxton said. “They actually have their own breeding program. They breed the dogs right on site and then they give them out to their puppy raisers such as myself.”

Paxton was influenced by a friend to join and participate in the program. 

“Since we started out, we’ve had nine pups in our group over about three years, and unfortunately, only one of those pups has graduated because it is such a stressful job that a lot of the dogs are dropped for physical or personality issues,” Paxton said. 

Kaia will be sent to California to start the next part of her training journey in Guide Dogs of America.

“My favorite part about the service dog visit is that Kaia was taken to the POST program,” Ball said. “I think that it was important for the POST program to get an interactive experience with service animals.”

Have you ever met a service dog?