Local women teach dogs to lead the way | TheUnion.com

Local women teach dogs to lead the way

Linda Al-Moiky of Connecticut now has a new friend: Sabra, a black and tan German shepherd guide dog raised by Bonnie Finsthwait of Chicago Park and Sarah McPheeters of Colfax.

Finsthwait and McPheeters are founders of Auburn Foothills Guiding Eyes, a local puppy-raising club which raises dogs for Guide Dogs for the Blind, a nonprofit in San Rafael.

“We love working with the animals,” McPheeters said. “It’s a way to give back to the community and help people.”

McPheeters and Finsthwait bring dogs from San Rafael when they are 8-months-old and raise them until they are about 15 months old, McPheeters said.

“We do their basic socializing and obedience training,” she said. “When they are 15 months old, they go back to the Guide Dogs campus and train for six months. After that, they graduate with their partners,” the blind owners.

McPheeters took Sabra to work every day so she would “learn to be quiet and behave in an office environment,” she said.

“Sabra has also been on the train, on a ferry and on the BART,” McPheeters added.

Sabra graduated with Al-Moiky last month in San Rafael, McPheeters said. She and Finsthwait attended the graduation ceremony.

“It’s always a wonderful thing to see a dog graduate,” McPheeters said. “You’re giving a blind person their freedom, and it’s a very rewarding experience.”

To contact Soumitro Sen, e-mail ssen@theunion.com or call 477-4229.

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