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Health: Seeing Eye Dogs Behind The Scenes Training

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stephanie-web Stephanie Stahl
Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3 and The CW Philly 57’s Emmy Award-win...
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By Stephanie Stahl

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Seeing eye dogs are now multi-tasking, helping blind people who also suffer with post-traumatic stress disorder.  3 On Your Side Health Reporter Stephanie Stahl has more on the lives being changed and a behind the scene look at the special training.

People who get seeing eye dogs have better mobility, independence and self-confidence.  They’re being used by a growing number of veterans.  Many of the specially trained dogs come from a world renowned facility in New Jersey.

At ten-days-old, these puppies haven’t opened their eyes yet.  But soon the tiny German Shepherds will begin training to see for those who can’t, for people like Jesse Acosta.

“The doctors said that it looked promising for me that I would survive, but I would have to be accustomed to being blind,” said Jesse.  He says his guide dog Charlie does much more than help him get around.

“He has calmed me down with my PTSD,” said Jesse.  He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after being blinded during a bombing in Iraq.

Dogs like Charlie are specially bred at The Seeing Eye.  Special exercises teach the pups to look up, something dogs typically don’t do.

“They have to look out for tree branches that would hang down and hit the person in the head.  We teach how to look up and avoid those obstacles,” said Peggy Gibbon, the Director of Canine Development.

When the puppies are eight-weeks-old, they’re placed for a year with temporary families, like Melissa Baumgartner’s.  She and her daughter Katelyn are raising their eighth puppy, Yogi.

“I tell him he’s growing up for greater things, and he’s going to be a hero when he grows up,” said Melissa.

“I can’t imagine being a puppy raising family and falling in love with these animals.  I am so grateful to them for what they do for the blind community,” said Jesse.

The facility, The Seeing Eye, in north Jersey breeds and trains the dogs, and also works with people who are blind providing them with month long sessions so they get used to working with their new best friend.

For more information, visit the link below:

The Seeing Eye- http://www.seeingeye.org/

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