Tutty trains to be a service dog

Siena Ferrick, Sports Editor

If you were to see the Eisenbeisers around Vienna, chances are you’ll see a small half lab, half golden retriever puppy in a yellow vest trotting alongside of them. Tutty, a six-month-old service-dog-in-training as part of the Guide Dog Foundation program, has been a part of the Eisenbeiser family since October 2016. Tutty will stay with the Eisenbeisers until December of 2017, and after completing his initial training with them, the Guide Dog Foundation will take him to New York, where he will be put through the final stages of training in a “dog college” and be assigned his human partner. Tutty and his partner will spend a few months in New York getting acquainted with one another and finishing up Tutty’s classes.

The idea to adopt and train a service dog came to the Eisenbeisers after Alana Eisenbeiser (’17) talked her family into raising Tutty; she had been dreaming about raising a puppy to work for the good of others. The family contacted many agencies and eventually The Guide Dog Foundation, a program that provides free seeing-eye dogs to blind individuals, placed them with a puppy who will one day work for the blind as a seeing eye dog.

Raising Tutty comes with some challenges, although not all of them are specific to raising a seeing-eye-dog.

“The basic puppy issues have been a challenge. He bit things at first but, because he’s a seeing-eye dog, every time he messes up we have to scrutinize him. We have to say ‘no don’t do that!’ and remind him that if he acts like that then he won’t meet his milestones,” Alana Eisenbeiser (’17) said.

The experience has been strenuous for both Tutty and the family.

“There are certain milestones he has to meet, and there are very specific directions as to how to train him. He isn’t allowed to play inside the house and even when he can play outside the house he has to play by himself because the rules keep us from playing with him so he learns to be a trained eye instead of a regular dog,” Eisenbeiser said.

Even with the restrictions, Eisenbeiser maintains that the best part of raising Tutty  is getting to have a puppy in the house,

“It’s fun to expose him to different places. We get to show him what a library and a restaurant look like,” Eisenbeiser said. “ We took him to Florida, and he first saw the ocean. He was afraid of the water, and he kept jumping back, so it was really cool to bring him to new places.”

Although parting with Tutty will be hard, Eisenbeiser said that she knows it’s well worth it,

“I remind myself each day that we are doing this for someone who needs him, and I know that they will rely on him more than I do,” she said.
Follow Tutty as he continues his training on Instagram: @tuttystravels