Guide dogs attend training at Oakland Airport
OAKLAND, Calif. (KTVU) - Excited, attentive, and ready to start their lessons, 30 guide dogs in training checked in at the Alaska Airlines ticket counter at Oakland Airport this morning.
Their trainers had pretend boarding passes in hand for a flight that would never leave the gate. The group here wasn't traveling, but training.
Their journey was meant to take these pups to the next level of guide dog expertise by teaching them how to navigate an airport.
Vanessa Lyens, the Director of Training for Guide Dogs for the Blind says the dogs learned "everything from going through security, boarding a plane, getting settled at a seat, hearing some of the noises that happen on a plane".
The non-profit organization paired up with Alaska Airlines to host the training at Oakland Airport for the 4th year in a row.
Strolling through the terminal and in the boarding area, the canines caught the eye of amused and appovoing passengers.
Robert Rosenfeld says, "I'm just really pleased to see something like this happening, I thing it's a very worthy program".
Once on board the plane, the puppies learn how to help handlers to their seats, stay in the small carry-on space in front of them, and remain calm for the duration of the flight.
Maia Scott is visually impaired. She's traveled with her guide dog, Fiddler, across the country. She says training like this made him a pro.
Scott says, "He's pretty comfortable with it, he's pretty low key. I think the hardest part is actually navigating the various airports because there's such an interesting choreography of people and things that go on and my dog has a big responsibility to make decisions on how to get around these things".
The airport exercise is just one component of a months-long formal training program.
Once the pups graduate, Guide Dogs for the Blind will pair them with visually impaired handlers from around the U.S. and Canada.
One of the first things they'll do together- is get on a plane to fly back to the dog's new home.
When that day comes, the hops is that these future guide dogs will pass the airport travel test with flying colors.