Guiding Eyes For the Blind – Puppy Raiser Profiles – Ito & the Cross Family

Guiding Eyes For the Blind – Puppy Raiser Profiles – Ito & the Cross Family

Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown Heights, New York, matched me with my first guide dog, Frances, in October of 2016.  Since our training, “Franny” and I have traveled together more than I have ever dreamed possible.  She is my best friend, my companion, my partner, and as my daughter, Nuala, says, “Franny is mommy’s eyes.”

I could never repay Frances’ puppy raisers, The Cashman Family, for the amazing gift they have provided to my family. I am equally indebted to Guiding Eyes for the Blind, and their amazing Home Training Department, for funding the breeding and training of these amazing creatures.

As the acting secretary for Mommies With Guides (MWG), an online support group for blind women (and a few fellas) who are raising families with the help of our life changing guide dogs; I want to help profile Guiding Eye’s puppy raisers on both the MWG Facebook Page and on Blind Motherhood.

Helen Keller once said, “There is no better way to thank God for your sight than by giving a helping hand to someone in the dark.” This quote captures the selflessness of both puppy raisers and guide dog schools. These animals provide their partners light in the darkness of their visual impairment and they must be thanked and revered for their diligent work in helping the blind community.  

Working in conjunction with Guiding Eyes for the Blind, their puppy raisers from across the country have been invited to share their stories with me. I hope you enjoy getting to know these amazing people and the dogs they are currently raising!

Submitted By The Cross Family – Baltimore Region:

My husband, Paul, and I had always had family pets. When our last dog had to be put down after 16 years; we decided that we would not get another. I had cared for my mother during her last 6 years, our children were all on their own, and although I still worked full time at a local middle school; I found that I still had time on my hands.

Puppy Raisers Wanted:

I came across a Guiding Eyes (GEB) advertisement in my local newspaper looking for families interested in raising puppies for the blind; I discussed the possibility with Paul. We visited a puppy raisers’ class and decided that we would give it our best try.

Now, just finishing our tenth puppy, we look back fondly at the fine people we have met in the GEB organization, how very much we have learned about properly training these wonderfully intelligent puppies, and just how gratifying it is to see their potential fulfilled with matched with their chosen partners.

Training Ito:

Our present pup, Ito, is a one year old, yellow, male Labrador. He has learned every command, has become confident in a variety of situations and social encounters including the post office, library, school assemblies, church, shopping centers, and even the second-hand store where my husband and I also volunteer.

Although he loves to fetch balls, race around our yard, and go hiking; Ito is content to lie at our feet and relax with our pet lab, Echo, a female black labrador we actually adopted from GEB.  These two comrades are constant companions and we believe that Echo has actually helped raise Ito.

Affectionate & Independent:

One of Ito’s outstanding attributes is although he loves attention; he will retrieve a toy to amuse himself with independently and easily settles down without being told. He is very affectionate and interested in people of all ages. Ito enjoys greeting everyone, but readily returns to us.

What We Want Ito’s Partner To Know:

Paul & I want Ito’s future partner to know that he is used to being “loved” (body handled) before he goes into his kennel each night. We have never taken him any place where he is not admired for his obedience, confidence, and appearance.

My husband and I live by the verse from Luke 19: 26 “…to whom much is given, much is expected.”

Our lives have been enriched by our experiences with Guiding Eyes and we will happily continue to raise puppies as long as we are able. We are truly blessed.

puppy raisers


Editor’s Note: The average cost of training one of these remarkable dogs is 50K.  To learn how you can GIVE to Guiding Eyes for the Blind, please CLICK HERE! 

In addition, if you would like more information on becoming a puppy raiser with Guiding Eyes for the Blind, please CLICK HERE.  

Want to be featured on our Puppy Raiser Profiles? Email Celeste Rees, Guiding Eyes Regional Manager for the Puppy Program @ [email protected]