SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. – It’s almost game time for the UCSB Women’s Basketball team.
And their cheerleading section looked a little bigger during practice.
"Martinez and I are often at the basketball practices at the UCSB basketball team. And they’re huge fans of Martinez," said guide dog owner Cheri Owen.
More than a dozen guide dogs for the blind puppies-in-training came to watch the basketball team.
But that's not all they did.
"I love that these puppies are here … being able to hear the sounds of the basketball the buzzers the playing and to get them acclimated to this kind of experience," said Owen.
These guide dog puppies participated in a socializing exercise.
It's part of a community initiative between UCSB and Guide Dogs for the Blind organization.
"It’s a great experience for our puppies to experience all the sites and sounds that come with a basketball game that they might not hear out and about so it’s a great way to relate them for the toll as a guide dog," said puppy raising field manager Alex Gregory of Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Organizers are hoping to recruit much-needed Southern California vounteers to become puppy raisers.
"My hope is Horton will become a guide dog for a blind person and open up the world for someone who is blind," said puppy raiser Brad Robinson of Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Puppy raisers nurture and teach puppies good manners and expose them to a range of situations like gymnasiums and sporting arenas.
This is to prepare them in their journey to become guide dogs after formal training with GDB.
The initiative was made possible by Cheri Owen, a member of the GDB Alumni Board.
She also volunteers as a life coach and mentor to UCSB student athletes including the women’s basketball team.
Owen says Martinez helps her to live a more active, independent, and happy life.
GDB provides all its services for free to clients.
GDB prepares highly qualified guide dogs to empower individuals who are blind or visually impaired.
During the practice, the pups-in-training will experience the sights and sounds on the court, explore the spectator seating areas, and mingle with players.
For more information on how you can help Guide Dogs for the Blind log onto: https://www.guidedogs.com/
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