Wesley, The Guide Dog Puppy

by Pat King, Wesley Homes Des Moines resident Meet Wesley. He is a six month old Labrador puppy. When he grows up, he will be partnered with a visually impaired person as a guide dog. Wesley, who acquired his name in the California facility where guide dog puppies are born, was 10 weeks old when he and eight other puppies were loaded onto a transport truck. The puppies were dropped off at their new homes until, at last, Wesley made it all the way to Des Moines, WA. He was a tiny black bundle of fur when he moved in with his new puppy raisers, Victoria and Lynn Ferrell. The girls began by playing and cuddling with Wesley on the floor – never on the furniture. Their goal for this energetic puppy is for him to become a mature, dependable dog. They spend three hours a day socializing, playing and training. I met Wesley and Victoria at one of the twice-a-month puppy training sessions on campus in The Terrace.  He is learning to follow directions, understand verbal cues and be relaxed and calm with other animals and in schools, cars, buses, trains, planes and ferries. Wesley attended The Des Moines Endless Summer Open House here at The Terrace, which was part of his training to accept new situations.   Stephanie Ko, Hideo Fujita, Don Reiter, Colton, Kelli Reiter, Victoria Ferrell, Wesley and Lynn Ferrell   After a year with Wesley’s new family, the puppy transport will return and take Wesley to an Oregon facility where he will spend four months learning to guide a visually impaired person. His final test will be to lead a blindfolded person through the streets of Portland. For Veronica and Sara, their tearful reward will come at graduation when Wesley is handed over to his new friend and companion. Wesley will then spend two weeks in enclosed living with his new person where they will learn to trust and love each other. Guide Dogs for the Blind pays for Wesley’s training expenses. As a trained guide dog, his monetary value will be $70,000, but to his new owner, Wesley will be priceless. The Guide Dog Puppy Raising group meetings are open to residents. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer puppy sitter or puppy raiser, please contact Kelli and Don Reiter at [email protected]  

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