April 04, 2017
By Kent Justice - Reporter/11 p.m. anchor
Airports host biped travelers every day they’re open, but the Jacksonville International Airport on Tuesday hosted a group of four-legged friends in a training program that allowed K-9s into the airport and through security.
A group of dogs isn't exactly what you'd expect when you walk into the airport. Sandy the dog was in attendance with a school that was doing some training Tuesday as part of a program that helps them become guide dogs and help somebody throughout the rest of their life.
"It's amazing the work that the guide dogs do," said Thresa Shaver, area coordinator for Southeast Guide Dogs. "And it does take a very special dog to get into that program.”
The dogs are puppies working their way through various stages of a yearlong program of learning.
"Once they go back to the guides dogs school, (they're) really put through a battery of tests to make sure that they are not going to stress out for the work," Shaver said. "Sometimes they do -- they just decide they don't want to be a guide dog. That's when they'll career change them and put them in another career."
The pups were a huge hit at the airport, with lots of people taking a moment to pet them or say hi. And while they’re working hard at learning the proper protocol for flying, the pups, and the puppy trainers, know they’ll have a very meaningful mission to complete. There could also be some tears at the end of their year together.
"I've loved having him," puppy raiser Carrie Trammell said. "I love taking him places, and when we went to the school we got to see how it impacted someone's life -- someone who got a guide dog, so it's really worth it."
News4Jax asked the puppy raiser Nicole Trammell if she was going to need Kleenex the day she turns him in.
"Absolutely," Nicole Trammell said as she laughed. "When I turned Ted in, I cried for about a month straight afterward. It was hard, but you getting the dog, you know, the purpose in life is far and greater than just to be my pet, so it's doable."
The puppies range in age from 10 weeks to 1 year old.