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Thea, a one-year-old Golden Retriever trainee in the Leader Dogs for the Blind program, recently paid a visit to the Memphis-SCO Lions Club. Joined by her trainer, John Berkheiser, Thea demonstrated the special qualities possessed by trained dogs that assist the visually impaired.
Berkheiser, an official Lions Leader Dog trainer, gave a presentation about the Leader Dog school that trains special canines such as Thea. He and his wife, Elaine, work as Puppy Raisers for the organization. Thea is the 20th puppy raised by the couple in preparation of becoming a Leader Dog. Mrs. Berkheiser is the Lions' State Leader Dog Coordinator. The Berkheisers have raised trainee puppies for more than 20 years.
Mr. Berkheiser likened Thea's training to a dog going through high school in preparation to attend college. In a few weeks, Thea will begin her formal training to become an official Leader Dog. Her first year has been spent learning obedience and socialization skills.
Special thanks go to Thea and the Berkheisers for visiting SCO and for all that they do to assist others!