Meet Murphy! Like any 3-week-old puppy he is soft, sweet, silly and just about the cutest thing ever. But behind this precious exterior is a little dog learning to take on a big responsibility.
Murphy is in training at Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Yorktown Heights, New York, to become a guide dog to a blind or visually impaired person.
While he has a packed schedule already, this little pup has agreed to let us follow his 16 month journey from squirmy newborn to graduated guide dog, which means you will be seeing a lot more of this fuzzy face on People.com. Murphy is going to be making regular visits to the PEOPLE offices to show off his training, answer reader questions and receive snuggles from the staff — a vital part of guide dog socialization. He will also be sending in exclusive updates on all the fascinating and important tricks, skills and duties he is learning at the Guiding Eyes campus.
It’s going to be a lot of up-close puppy access, but when has that ever been a problem? Especially when the puppy is dedicating his life to improving some else’s.
Born on August 19, to mother Heaven and dad Carlos, both Labrador retrievers, Murphy is part of a litter of 10 pups, who are all working to become guide dogs.
After more than 50 years of nonprofit guide dog work, Guiding Eyes has dog training down to a science, starting with breeding their dogs to have the health and temperament that will best serve their clients. Murphy is already learning the traits and tricks necessary for becoming an ideal service animal.
Staring week one, Murphy has been on the job, receiving massages from Guiding Eyes volunteers to help him get accustomed to the feeling of humans touching him, since it is a major part of working with a person with vision loss. Our pup also started crate training at birth, to help establish the area as a safe space he will feel comfortable being put in by his future owner. While this may seem like a lot of work for a newborn, it’s important to start early.
In his fourth week, Murphy will start learning important skills like how to be comfortable with siren sounds, learning to sit, walking on different textures, getting used to wearing a harness and becoming aware of the world above his head. This final lesson is important for helping Murphy to guide his future owner away from obstructions from above, like tree branches.
Murphy is learning all of this and more by his mother’s side where he and his siblings will stay until they are over 6 weeks old. After being weaned, Murphy will be moved into the home of his puppy raiser, a family specially chosen to care for him while he attends his daily training sessions at the Guiding Eyes campus.
This is just the beginning! Expect to see, hear and experience a lot more of Murphy as he continues to work towards being a guide dog and prepares for his first visit to the PEOPLE offices.