It’s all aboard at Hollywood Burbank airport. But these aren’t your typical passengers. They’re part of Guide Dogs for the Blind, ready for a takeoff to training.
Linda Wheeler is a volunteer puppy raiser with her charge, Wallaby.
“He has been an amazing happy boy that loves to please,” said Wheeler. “He gets a lot of attention partly because of his height and partly because he is a handsome boy, but I’m a little prejudice.”
“We’re just trying to give them as much exposure and practice as we can,” said volunteer Stacy Larsen.
These are the training exercises hosted by Alaska Airlines – meant to teach these two dozen puppies how to navigate all aspects of a busy airport: from the ticket counter through security and boarding a plane. While on board, the dogs are exposed to not only the tight space but all those airline sounds. It’s all part of their journey to becoming guide dogs that will one-day help travelers who are blind or visually impaired.
“Our goal is to empower and help our clients lead the lives they want to lead and that is made possible through our amazing volunteer puppy raisers,” said Alex Gregory, Guide Dogs for the Blind.
“I will start crying, but it’s the most beautiful gift that we have the fun of raising them, and then we get to give this gift to somebody that will change their life,” said Wheeler. “They are just amazing people, and this dog just opens up a whole other realm for them.”