Meet the Mira class of 2011

We are thrilled to report that our six 2011 candidates for MIRA guide dogs have passed the halfway mark in their month-long training program and all are thriving. As many of you are aware, until we can secure the funding to send three people to MIRA Canada for the three year trainer’s program and purchase a facility to accommodate students and dogs for training here in the US, we are working closely with MIRA Canada where our dogs are currently being trained.

It is truly an honor to be in partnership with an organization with such global recognition. MIRA Canada is the only place in the world where guide dogs are specifically trained for the 11-17 age group. In 1991, MIRA Canada created a pilot program in conjunction with the renowned L’Institut Nazareth et Louis-Braille to assess the feasibility of pairing guide dogs with children and youth in this age group. The results were highly encouraging, as the blind students displayed better than average levels of maturity, comprehension, and adaptability. As a result, Eric St.Pierre, MIRA Canada’s Founder, committed to creating a program that has prepared over 150 young people to receive MIRA guide dogs during the last twenty years.

Darcie, Ryan & Meredith relax with their dogs

Darcie, Ryan & Meredith relax with their dogs

Darcie, Ryan & Meredith Relax With Their DogsWhen the students return home with their dogs at the end of July they will have a few weeks of relative downtime while the dog adapts to its new life and both partners absorb what they have learned over the summer. After this break, a MIRA trainer will pay a home visit for a week to work with the student and dog on the regular routes the student utilizes. The trainers are available for as many home visits as is necessary, however, it is rare to exceed three.

MIRA training is a long and demanding process. The safety of the student and dog are paramount, so it is critical that all of the steps necessary to assure this safety are carefully followed. The professionals at MIRA USA and MIRA Canada are dedicated to the belief that, when given the proper support, blind children can enjoy lives every bit as productive, interesting, and rewarding as their sighted peers. It is humbling, indeed, to recognize the role the MIRA guide dogs play in this success.

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