Guide dog Lily hits the grocery store for training

KSAT 12 is sponsoring Lily, keeping track of her progress in training

By Sarah Acosta - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - KSAT 12 is sponsoring another guide dog with the Guide Dogs of Texas in San Antonio. This year's dog, Lily, is undergoing rigorous yearslong training to become a seeing guide dog for a visually impaired Texan.

Lily is now 4 months old and goes on daily trips outside of the home in order to expose her to everyday experiences. One of her weekly outings includes trips to H-E-B.

“They've got squeaky baskets, they've got crying kids, they have TVs that are playing movies,” Annette Hennesy said. “Those are all things I need to expose her to, in addition to all the smells.”

Hennesy is Lily’s puppy raiser. She said it's important to expose Lily to aspects of one's everyday life little by little so she'll be ready. State law supports that training.

Texas law allows for puppies in training to go inside stores with their vests so they can get used to those sounds crowds and smells. But it’s important not to overwhelm Lily.

Right now, Hennesy said she only takes Lily to places she knows she'll be able to handle.

One thing “she is not going to be able to handle for a long time is Costco on a Saturday morning,” Hennesy said.  “Things like that are incredibly busy, loud and that's pretty high level puppy raiser training.”

Another challenge for Lily -- the delicious smells coming from the meat market and pet food section.

“There are just amazing smells that smell exactly like her dinner, so she is going to get really, really distracted,” Hennesy said. “So we have to work up to that slowly.”

Hennesy said big busy trips like that will most likely happen in a year and she is confident Lily will get to that level because Lily is highly motivated by her rewards for good behavior: treats.

“She does get treats regularly when she's in places where she is training. So that, in addition to getting lots of attention, lots of cuddles, lots of meeting new people, we are going to break out the treats a lot more than we would at home,” Hennesy said. 

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