It will be seven years this summer since we got Porter, our first Seeing Eye puppy, to raise. Although he was a bright and enthusiastic pup, Porter did not complete formal training at the Seeing Eye. His situation is not unusual; about 60 percent of the pups actually complete their harness training at Morristown and go on to become Seeing Eye dogs.
When the dog is turned down, the puppy raiser has the first option to adopt him or her. There is also a long waiting list at the Seeing Eye for other people to adopt the dogs for a fee. Still others are destined for security duty, perhaps as detection dogs at an airport or train station.
A dog that is not chosen to lead the blind is by no means regarded as a failure by the Seeing Eye, he just has a different calling in life. Porter did very well, according to the reports we received, but he had a problem with "emotional urination" that could not be overcome. Luckily, we have not suffered this "meltdown" at home!
I'd also like to share some links. The Seeing Eye is raising a puppy at the Morristown campus and has a very attractive, delightful blog at http://www.seeingeyepuppy.com/ showcasing the daily life of Vinson, who is a bit younger than Sparkle. Vinson has had many adventures in his short life, including suffering a broken leg, which has since healed. There's also great nuts-and-bolts advice about puppy-raising straight from the experts who have been doing this since 1929. For general information on Seeing Eye puppy-raising, visit http://www.seeingeye.org/raise/default.aspx
Finally, my Inquirer colleague Amy Worden has a wonderfully wide-ranging blog, Philly Dawg, that has a wealth of fresh information about dogs and everything else animal-related at http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/pets/