Boomer and Mollie just celebrated their four-year partnership anniversary! Boomer is a Seeing Eye Dog, and his job is to help Mollie, his handler, safely navigate her environment. Essentially, she needs to know her destination. He guides her around obstacles she cannot see as she gives him directional commands. If Mollie gives Boomer an unsafe command, like crossing a street when a car is coming, he will practice intelligent disobedience. This means he will not obey a command that will endanger the two.
Boomer is a graduate of The Seeing Eye in Morristown, New Jersey. This is where the name “Seeing Eye Dog” comes from. The Seeing Eye School is the world’s first and oldest guide dog school. Not all guide dogs are Seeing Eye dogs; only graduates of Seeing Eye get the title.
Boomer was born on October 15, 2017; at approximately eight weeks old, he went to live with a volunteer puppy raiser for the first year of his life. He learned all his basic obedience skills and excellent manners during this time. Once he was a year old, he was returned to The Seeing Eye for his official guide dog training.
This training usually lasts four to six months and is very extensive. Once Boomer passed all the skills tests with his trainer, he was ready to be matched with Mollie. Mollie spent three weeks training alongside him in Morristown.
This is where they navigated busy streets, shopping areas, revolving doors, escalators, and public transportation, among many other exciting training adventures. Mollie likes to say that she can take Boomer anywhere anyone else can expect to take their eyes. However, there are some limited exceptions. For instance, there are some sterile hospital environments where he cannot go. But generally speaking, Boomer can go everywhere with Mollie.
There are many reasons why the general public should ignore a service animal like Boomer. First, his work requires a lot of focus. Although petting seems harmless, it can distract the animal and the person they are supporting. If either of them loses focus, it can put both in danger. Second, Mollie constantly rewards Boomer with praise and pets as he works. This positive affection is an incentive for him to continue his good work. If he were to receive this praise from others constantly, it would reduce its effectiveness from her. Let’s think about it, would you be motivated to do your best work if you knew someone other than your employer would be paying you for just being adorable? I don’t think so! Allowing someone to pet a service animal is always at the handler’s discretion. If the time is right, the handler may slip off the harness and allow a quick pet or snuggle session. But please do not touch the animal while they are working.
Boomer does not eat anything other than his dog food and dog treats. This ensures he maintains a healthy weight for a long and healthy life. It is also to prevent bad table manners. If allowed table scraps at home, he might scavenge for food as he dines in restaurants with his handler. He does love ice as an extra treat. If he hears someone in his family kitchen getting ice from the refrigerator, he makes sure to get there in time for a piece to be tossed to him! It’s not always work for Boomer.
He works hard, but he plays even harder! When they are at home, Boomer is a typical dog. Mollie does not need him to help her navigate her house. This means he clocks out and enjoys being a pet. He loves all the toys, especially the crackly toys with long appendages he can shake or play tug with. Most squeakers don’t last long with him. Boomer also loves chasing tennis balls outside. His best friend is a very large Great Pyrenees named Joy.
Mollie loves to talk about Boomer and educate people about Seeing Eye Dogs. If you want to learn more about Seeing Eye Dogs, check out seeingeye.org.
A big thanks to Boomer for being the Advocate of the Month!
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