After about a year-and-a-half of preparation and training, Apple is now a working guide dog.
For those of you new to campus, Apple is a black Labrador retriever raised by Assistant Professor of Psychology Kristin Bonnie to become an OccuPaws guide dog. The Madison-based, non-profit raises and trains guide dogs and then gives them free-of-charge to visually impaired children and adults in Wisconsin.
As a puppy-raiser, Bonnie’s role was to teach Apple basic obedience skills and puppy manners as well as to socialize her. Subsequently, the professor took Apple with her everywhere, including campus, where she became a beloved Beloiter.
Bonnie bid farewell to Apple earlier this year as the canine moved on to the next stage of her training, and over the summer Apple lived with and learned from OccuPaw’s guide-dog trainer.
In mid-August, just as everyone arrived back on campus, Apple finished her training alongside her new partner, Angie. Apple now resides full time with Angie and her husband in Monticello, Wis., as a working guide dog.
As is tradition, OccuPaws will hold a formal graduation ceremony next month to celebrate the new pair.
Before Apple was placed, Bonnie had the opportunity to take Apple for a “test drive” one hot afternoon in late July. Though Bonnie hadn’t seen Apple since February, she said it was clear her former canine companion remembered her.
After their reunion, Bonnie strapped on a blindfold, grabbed onto Apple’s harness, and took off on a 30-minute walk where it was clear Apple was in charge.
“I can honestly say it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life,” Bonnie said.