Sunny's Final Placement
At the Guide Dog Foundation, our goal is to place our dogs in a career that’s right for them. If a dog isn’t suited to be a guide dog, for whatever reason, we look for a career path with other potential organizations where they will have an impact based on the skillset and behaviors they exhibit.
After a year and a half of monitoring Sunny’s training, health, and well-being, our team at the Guide Dog Foundation discovered that Sunny has mild allergy issues that will prohibit him from becoming a guide dog for someone who is blind or visually impaired. However, based on a thorough evaluation of his skills and temperament, we concluded a placement at an organization close to the Foundation would allow Sunny to continue to work and allow our canine care team to monitor his allergies and provide top medical care when needed.
Sunny will join the staff as a Facility Dog at the Henry Viscardi School at The Viscardi Center
in Albertson, New York. The Henry Viscardi School provides educational opportunities for children with severe physical disabilities who may also require life-sustaining medical treatment during the school day. Sunny has been trained to provide a variety of tasks to engage children as they go about their daily academic activities.
We are proud of Sunny and have been honored to witness him blossom into an amazing assistance dog. We are thankful to NBC and TODAY for the awareness they helped raise for Sunny and the mission of the Guide Dog Foundation and we look forward to an amazing difference he’ll make in the lives of hundreds of children with disabilities he’ll be supporting each school year.
It is of upmost importance that the Guide Dog Foundation places the highest quality guide dogs with our clients who are blind or visually impaired. Our canine care and veterinary staff are consistently monitoring the behavioral and medical well-being of all of our dogs from birth through placement to ensure a successful match with the people we serve.
Q: What is the he Henry Viscardi School at The Viscardi Center?
A. The Henry Viscardi School is a New York State supported school that offers parents of children with severe physical disabilities and who often require life-sustaining medical treatment throughout the day, a traditional educational setting that provides rigorous academics and opportunities for personal growth and leadership development. Its specialized, accessible educational setting provides a fully-enriched academic program, a variety of therapies, assistive technology and medical supports to students who may otherwise need to receive instruction in their homes or a hospital. The students, pre-K through age 21, come from Nassau and Suffolk Counties, the five boroughs of New York City, as well as Westchester and Rockland Counties.
Q: What will Sunny do at the school?
A. Sunny is going to be participating in various ways with faculty and students including the following:
- Greeting/Goodbye (with the children at the start/end of day) - Depending on child’s capabilities, that may be a fist bump, a hand shake, petting, or asking him to rest his head in their lap
- Speech Therapy - Student will say obedience cues and Sunny will do them or kids will name an object like “pencil” and Sunny will pick that up
- Care of Dog (grooming, checking paws, ears, etc.) as a reward - Students will learn responsibility and share the care of Sunny by taking turns grooming, checking his paws, ears, etc.
- Read to Sunny - Sunny will minimize the anxiety of reading out loud by resting his head into their lap while they take turns reading aloud
- Close doors, drawers, cabinets, etc to assist faculty throughout the day - Within the classroom
- Push power door buttons - Most students are power wheelchair users
- Walking Sunny as a reward - With his handler by their side, Sunny will walk with students as they hold the handle on his special vest
- Social and emotional learning - Sunny will assist with social and emotional learning at the school which is the process through which children understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships and make responsible decisions.
Q: Who is Sunny’s new handler?
A. Sunny will be working and living with a carefully chosen full-time school faculty member who has previous dog handling experience and interacts with the entire student body each week. As with all facility dog handlers, we carefully select and screen individuals to be a part of our facility dog programs.
Q: What medical condition does Sunny have?
A: Our team of veterinarians discovered Sunny has mild allergies that requires monthly check ups and monitoring that will continue throughout his life. He may need to take medication a few times a year to keep him comfortable during his “allergy season”. He is otherwise a happy and healthy boy with a great quality of life!
Q: What type of medical evaluations do our dogs participate in?
A: All of our future assistance dogs undergo continuous medical and behavioral evaluations throughout puppy raising and the formal training prior to being placed with their veteran handler. We also require our clients to have their dogs examined by a veterinarian at least once a year.