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5 Houston-area families train future guide dogs

by Tiffany Craig / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on February 20, 2014 at 11:15 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 21 at 2:12 PM

HOUSTON -- A group of dogs lovers waited at Bush Intercontinental Airport Thursday evening for some precious cargo to arrive from California.

"Everybody has been asking me all day, you know, 'When is your puppy coming?" Dianne Kraxberger said.

But these were no ordinary puppies.

The five 8-week old Labradors are here on a special mission with Guide Dogs for the Blind.

"This is the very beginning of their adventure into becoming working guide dogs," said Sandy Alsworth.

During the next year, they will learn all the basics from their foster families in the Houston area.

"They're gonna be starting to introduce them to public transportation to malls, restaurants, "explained Alsworth. "Anything a person does in their life."

Richard Horwedel saw the difference a dog made for a blind friend and jumped at the chance to take part.

"He went a lot further than he did before just on the cane," recalled Horwedel. "I thought to myself, 'If I could do that just for one person, that would be worth a great deal.'"

Each family was chosen to do the training and Alsworth said being a "puppy raiser" can be addictive.

"These people do it over and over again," she told us. "They're like Lays potato chips: you don't take just one."

Kraxberger knows the experience is bittersweet. She had done it before.

In a year, she will have to say goodbye to her new baby. Corrie.

"My husband and I said it's like taking a kid to college," Kraxberger explained. "It's sad, but that's what they're supposed to do. That's their next step."

In about 15 months, the dogs will go back to California for advanced training.

If they pass, they will graduate to become guide dogs for someone in need.

Click here for more information on Guide Dogs for the Blind.

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