What to Know
- Guide Dogs of America | Tender Loving Canine puppy program
- A dozen pooches and their handlers left the program's Sylmar headquarters for a Metrolink rail trip to Union Station (and home again) on Dec. 4
- The program has many volunteer opportunities, including a chance to help out in the puppy nursery
The amazing opportunity to visit the Guide Dogs of America headquarters during an open house, or another community event, is one that people remember forever.
For not only are the pooches-in-training utterly adorable — that, of course, almost goes without saying, but say it, gushily, we certainly shall — but getting to know the organization's important, life-changing missions has a way of profoundly moving all who call upon its Sylmar campus.
Guide Dogs of America's steadfast goal is to "... breed, raise, and train guide dogs for individuals who are blind/visually impaired and service dogs for veterans and children with autism," all inspiring aims that the big-hearted group has more than met for over seven decades.
That training doesn't only happen on the grassy, romp-ready 7.5-acre campus; the furry trainees, and their dedicated handlers, often venture beyond the pups' temporary home and into restaurants, offices, and even bustling train stations, all to prepare the hounds to help out humans, in myriad ways, after graduating from Guide Dogs of America.
One of those lesson-filled field trips just took place for a dozen of the in-training dogs, when the snout-sweet students visited Union Station on Dec. 4.
The Guide Dogs of America team worked with Metrolink on the educational outing, which featured a "stampede of puppies" boarding a train within the commuter rail system at the Sylmar/San Fernando Station mid-morning on the first Saturday of December 2021.
Once they arrived downtown, the pups explored Union Station for a couple of hours, getting to know the bustling landmark while "working on a variety of skills and interacting with the public," too.
The pups then boarded a Metrolink train for their Sylmar home after their Union Station excursion concluded in the early afternoon.
"As a fully inclusive passenger railroad that is open to service animals, Metrolink is proud to help GDA | TLC to bring puppies onto our system for this training experience," said Metrolink CEO Darren Kettle.
"Many of these dogs will have a human partner soon and this training is essential to keeping both the dog and the person safe throughout a journey."
Of course, if you spied these hardworking honeybuns on either of their train trips, or at Union Station, you surely gave them, and their teams, plenty of space; the pooches were studiously picking up fresh skills, and brushing up on the knowledge they've acquired, during the instructive adventure.
But there is a way to get closer to these incredible animals, and to play a meaningful role with Guide Dogs of America, too: Volunteers are needed in several departments at the Sylmar campus, throughout the year, as tour guides, in the boarding area, and, oh yes, hold onto your heart, in the puppy nursery, too.