Freedom Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc., located in Cassville, NY, raises, trains and places guide dogs for the blind and visually impaired. Freedom Guide Dogs was founded in 1992 by Eric and Sharon Loori and placed 35 new guide dog teams in 2013.
In 2004, Mr. And Mrs. Loori met Satoru Tawada (Sam) of the Japanese Guide Dog Association at the International Guide Dog Users Conference in 2004. They discovered many shared beliefs and missions. As a result of this initial meeting, they determined to begin a series of joint projects that would benefit the mission of both organizations.
The first need of the Japanese Guide Dog Association was for quality dogs to train and place. Freedom Guide Dogs initially purchased two German Shepherd dog puppies and had them raised and socialized by Freedom Puppy Raiser families while they were properly prepared for import into Japan. These dogs were then trained by Japanese Guide Dog Association trainers and placed with Japanese clients with great success.
Building on this success, the Japanese Guide Dog Association felt that the acquisition of breeding animals to extend their breeding programs should be the next logical step. To accomplish this, Freedom Guide Dogs puppy raiser families raised two Labrador Retrievers (Tamika and Tia) from their successful breeding program, carefully selected for future breeding potential. The first such dogs were received in Japan in 2012 and Tamika had her first litter of nine puppies, which should enter training in early 2014. Tia whelped her first litter of eleven puppies in May 2013.
Freedom has raised and provided two German Shepherd dogs to the Japanese Guide Dog Association. Both dogs were trained as guide dogs. Kimika (Kimi), a German Shepherd female was sent to Japan in the summer of 2013 for their breeding program. Kimi’s brother, Knight, will be sent in December 2013 for their breeding program as well. Skye, an American White Shepherd was raised by puppy raisers in NY and trained by Eric Loori for guide work. She was sent to Japan in 2013 and is currently being readied for guide placement by her Japanese trainer, Kimiko.
In April 2013, Yukiko and Kimiko, trainers for the Japanese Guide Dog Association visited the Freedom Guide Dog facility in upstate NY. They came to observe training techniques as well as to evaluate pups for possible future breeding stock. The chose two yellow Labrador Retriever pups that they named Jingles and Judy. Both pups are being raised by puppy raisers in NY and will be sent to the JGDA in 2014 for their breeding program. Also joining the JGDA breeding program is black Labrador Retriever, Daylee, who will be sent in December 0f 2013.
In January of 2013, Eric Loori with guide-dog-in training, Sky, met with Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae, Congressman Richard Hanna of NY and Freedom Guide Dogs Board member, Paula Scott. The meeting was an excellent opportunity to tell Ambassador Sasae about the ongoing collaboration between Freedom Guide Dogs and the Japanese Guide Dog Association.
The Japanese Guide Dog Association and Freedom hope to continue this successful collaboration for the foreseeable future, as long as resources are available to support the program. We are excited that our two founders, Eric and Sharon Loori will be attending the International Guide Dog Federation Conference in Tokyo in May of 2014.