Mandy Schwartz does one of the most amazing and rewarding things in life – she raises puppies for Guiding Eyes for the Blind. While puppies are adorable, this has to be one of the hardest things to do. Spending so much time with such sweet fur babies, then having to give them up. But this is where the rewarding part comes in. Mandy helps so many people through something she’s extremely passionate about. Check out our interview with Mandy below.
- You followed your passion for animals, and are now devoted to raising puppies for a future as service dogs. Tell us about your passion, and how you have incorporated it in your life.
- Revisiting your childhood, what did you like to do?
- Was there a defining moment where you decided to follow what you love?
- Do you have people in your industry or out of it that have inspired your path?
- What are your superpowers?
- Do you create a vision board? How do you stay inspired, and focus on your goals?
As a family, we wanted to pay it forward and try to make a difference to the people around us. We researched several different charities and volunteer opportunities. Given our love for animals and giving back to our community, raising future service dogs easily became our passion. We fell in love with the mission of Guiding Eyes for the Blind, which is: “dedicated to enriching lives of blind and visually impaired men and women by providing them with the freedom to travel safely, thereby assuring greater independence, dignity and new horizons of opportunity”. Puppy raising is a true gift of love. We provide a home, lots of love and patience. We teach good social skills and house manners, and attend weekly training classes and outings to help raise a successful guide dog. We are matched with puppies around 8 weeks of age and have them in our home until the dog is around 16 months old. Then, our dog returns to Guiding Eyes for the Blind in New York and begins harness training. Guide dogs are a priceless gift as they provide empowerment, independence, mobility, and companionship to their visually impaired handler.
We have raised 4 puppies: Hali (yellow Lab), Hendrix (German Shepherd), Woodstock (yellow Lab), and Nino (black Lab). Hali is an explosive detection canine working for MSA Security in New York City. Hendrix just completed all 4 phases of harness training and is currently awaiting his perfect match. Woodstock was with us for 3 months as I started him for a family in Montgomery County. Woodstock is currently in harness training in New York. Nino just turned 8 months old and is my current puppy on program in my home. Goodbyes are always bitter sweet. Puppy raisers always say, “In our home for a little while, but in our hearts forever.”
Growing up in a small rural town in North Carolina, I was often found riding my 4 wheeler, horseback riding, or water skiing. As a child, I always loved spending time with my family and of course animals.
Yes, my defining moment was when I became a mom. I knew I wanted to raise my girls to be kind and empathetic. My daughters take great pride in raising service dogs. They fully embrace the process. It is a big part of their childhood and what they will remember on into adulthood. I hope that I will continue to inspire and spark a passion for volunteering in others, especially my daughters.
The way someone chooses to spend their free/spare time is a true reflection of their values and priorities. I have found some of the most inspiring people that volunteer and work for Guiding Eyes for the Blind. They have a true passion for animals and helping others. Guiding Eyes has a saying…”Extraordinary People Creating Exceptional Guide Dogs”. I feel very blessed to have these people and dogs in my life.
I do not feel I have any superpowers; however, Erin hears through Mommy channels that Mandy’s dedication as room mom in her girls’ classroom is definitely a superpower! ;)
My vision board consists of inspirational quotes and pictures of our past and present service dogs. I will share my favorite quote: “You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” – Bunyan
Do you have a passion you’d like to share? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and you could be featured in our next blog and email newsletter!