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A fuzzy labor of love

Training a puppy is a labor of love, but when it finally sits on command and learns good house manners, it's rewarding. However, can you imagine giving your puppy away after about 18 months after it's housebroken and you and your family have become attached to it? While it might sound heartbreaking, many families in the Capital District volunteer to do it for a good cause.

These people are opening their homes and hearts to raise puppies for approximately 18 months for a program called Guiding Eyes for the Blind Puppy Raising Program. Puppies are sent all over the Capital District, including Saratoga County, for further training for the program, eventually going to New York City for their last step of training.

Guiding Eyes for the Blind Puppy Raising Program of Yorktown Heights is looking for volunteers in the Capital District to help prepare the puppies for guide dog school. The Northern New York Puppy Raising Team, representing Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties and surrounding areas, meets twice a month at Christ Church United Methodist in Glens Falls and is in need of puppy raisers, puppy sitters and volunteers.

"The one we have right now is number six," said Barbara Taszul of South Glens Falls. She and her family are raising their sixth puppy for the program. She has two children who are in college already, and she said that the experience of sending her children off to college and sending puppies on to their next step of training is similar.

"It's very hard, but at the same time we always kind of laugh," said Taszul. "You're sort of nervous and upset when they leave, but I figure [we] did a good job because they're ready to move on."

She and her husband and children take puppies into their home at about two months old and keep them for about 18 to 20 months.

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