NEW YORK (NNS) -- Amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) was host to members of the Love on a Leash Seeing Eye Puppy Raising Club, a 4-H group, during 2017 Fleet Week New York (FWNY) as part of an integration and familiarization training exercise, May 26.
The dogs and their handlers, based in Chester, New Jersey, toured the hangar bay, the well deck and the flight deck to help the dogs to become acclimated to the real-life sights and sounds they may have to work around on a daily basis.
"We get a puppy when it's about seven or eight weeks old, take it home and teach it basic obedience, housebreaking and desensitize it to a lot of distractions," said Bud Liptak, a volunteer trainer with The Seeing Eye. "Touring the ship and coming to the city gets the puppies used to different types of circumstances, going upstairs, traffic, the ferry, buses and a lot of noise."
Bud, and his wife Kathy, brought their black lab puppy to the ship to meet Sailors and Marines, and to enjoy the experience. This is the second year that the group has visited ships during FWNY. Bud, a former Navy Sailor, and Kathy have bred three puppies together, but have taken care of many more during his 20-year tenure with The Seeing Eye.
"These dogs are outside dogs," Bud explained. "They want to work."
Not every dog that comes into the program makes it as a seeing eye dog. If it's decided that a puppy can't make it, but still has value as a working dog, it can get a second shot at working with the Department of Justice, the police or the military.
Until a seeing eye dog is ready for training, it spends its time with a "foster family," the family that gives the dog love, provides socialization and teaches basic obedience.
"If somebody can't continue to raise their dog, the dogs go back to The Seeing Eye," said Bud. "The current employees take care of them until they are able to find a new home."
Established in 1929, The Seeing Eye is the oldest existing guide dog school in the world. The Seeing Eye's breeding station in Chester breeds German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Labrador/Golden crosses.
Now in its 29th year, FWNY is the city's time-honored celebration of the sea services. It is an unparalleled opportunity for the citizens of New York and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as witness firsthand the latest capabilities of today's maritime services.
For up-to-date information on ship locations and tour schedules, visit the official Fleet Week New York website at www.fleetweeknewyork.com, "Like" www.facebook.com/FleetWeekNewYork, or "Follow" www.twitter.com/FleetWeekNYC. Join the conversation on social media by using #FleetWeekNYC.
For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.
For more news from Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnrma/.