Profiles: The Puppy Raiser—Ray Pontier

Ray Pontier, puppy raiser (L) and Valor (R).   Valor is one year old in this portrait taken August 2012 in Ocean Grove, NJ. PG photo

By Eileen and Paul Goldfinger

In Morristown, NJ is an organization called the Seeing Eye. They have been around since 1942, originally part of 4-H.   Their mission is to supply guide dogs to the blind. At their breeding and training facility, they aim for good temperament, intelligence and size in their German Shepherds, Labs, Golden Retrievers and Mixed Golden/Lab.

Valor at about 6 weeks. Photo courtesy of Roy Pontier.

Puppy raisers receive dogs at 7 weeks and take care of them until about 14 weeks.  Then the dogs undergo extensive testing, including X-rays.  After that, if the dog is eligible  (80% are) then they are turned over to a trainer for 4 months.  If you go to Morristown,  you see the trainers walking all over town with their dogs.

The puppy raisers have to give up their dogs and they may not receive another houseguest for six months to one year.  Valor and his puppy raiser Roy Pontier walk 4 miles per day around the small town of Ocean Grove, NJ where Valor and Ray have made many friends.    Roy receives funds for food and for vet fees.

SOUNDTRACK:  Carol King