Guest post by Alexis Leona

There is no better way to mark a new phase in the coronavirus pandemic than an in-person puppy meeting in the back garden. Puppies! Lessons learned from raising a puppy with a purpose was a meeting of community guests, guide dog puppy raisers, and one guide dog user. In all, attendees represented three different guide dog schools. This made for a really rich and truly informative conversation. 

To begin, I read a brief excerpt from my middle grade novel in progress and shared insights from my experience raising Guide Dog Gouda for GDA|TLC in Los Angeles. BC & Alberta Guide Dogs puppy raisers enlightened us on British Columbia’s Guide Dog and Service Dog Act and the advantages of carrying service dog identification cards. Plus, our guide dog user responded to many questions about her dog. Black Labrador, Fajita, was trained by The Seeing Eye based in New Jersey.

Scroll the Gallery for pictures!

There were four puppies in training in attendance, all Labradors about five to seven months old. They each took about 10 minutes to settle down before the start of our meeting and they held their composure for a solid 40 minutes. When the puppies reached the point of diminishing returns, they were still quiet and entertained themselves with a joyful roll in the grass.

Bravo to all the puppy raisers who worked hard to settle their puppies during the meeting. With enormous gratitude, I thank all participants for adding their voice, perspective and knowledge to the discussion. Special thanks to the Marpole Vancouver Public Library for providing a fantastic list of guide dog book recommendations for all ages (click here to download).

— Alexis

Alexis Leona is a writer and photographer with a passion for animals. She is working on her first novel for children, Growing Up Gouda, based on her experience as a guide dog puppy raiser. Alexis is writer-in-residence at Historic Joy Kogawa House in July 2021.

Alexis Leona Beamon, writer-in-residence at Historic Joy Kogawa House