For Those Relying on Guide Dogs, Connecticut Non-Profit Is Essential

Fidelco is working with a 4-week-old litter to ensure guide dogs will be ready to assist people who are blind once they mature.

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At first, it may seem confusing why a dog training organization is considered an essential business. Upon further consideration though, it’s easier to understand.

Fidelco, in Bloomfield and Wilton, has trained over 1,000 dogs, all who serve people who are blind.

“We are essential in that, when you have living breathing animals it continues. It doesn’t stop,” said Stephanie Corbeil, who oversees the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation location in Bloomfield.

Fidelco says they have clients using their dogs all over the world. Critical to the process is on-going training that takes a full two years to complete and starts early.

“It doesn’t stop and we can’t miss that because we can’t rewind the clock and go backwards and make up for that lost time with these puppies because they’re developing so quickly,” said Corbeil.

Working with the puppies begins almost immediately. At three days old. Trainers work with them every day for eight weeks, doing neurological stimulation, before they’re passed on to puppy raisers where the education continues.

From eight weeks old to 16 months puppy raisers teach these pups how to interact with humans. Like schools themselves, Fidelco has needed to adjust, providing puppy raisers with on-line learning assignments.

“We give them a video and they have been sending videos and pictures back to us of all the things they’ve been doing,” said Corbeil, explaining how they’re keeping the program continuing.

Corbeil says the organization has needed to adjust in other ways too. They’ve changed shifts and hours so as to have minimal contact with each other and the dogs.

While Fidelco works through the conditions of today, they need no reminder why they’re essential and understand the pups they're working with today are vital even though they’re only 4 weeks old.

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