DINUBA, Calif. (KFSN) --Agriculture students in the South Valley are learning life skills while also giving back to the community.
Dinuba High School student Madasen Gutierrez is training Gazelle to be a guide dog. For more than two months she's worked with the pup who comes with her to class, around campus, and even on trips out in public teaching her skills that will help her eventually safely guide a blind person around. "We wear this treat bag and we use the word 'nice' when they're doing a good job, and basically just taking her out bringing her to different areas."
The guide dog program is new to Dinuba High School this year and is part of the Agriculture Department. "Some of our students don't really like to do the cows and the pigs and the sheep, but this gives them the opportunity to deal with animals on a personal level, but also to give back," said Roy Browne, agriculture teacher.
The seven and eight-month-old dogs come with the students to class, patiently learning how to stay by their owner while teaching other students how to treat guide dogs. There are a few mishaps though. "There's times where the dog tries to chew the gum off the bottom of the desk, so I'll have to try to pull him down," said Adriane Cisneros, Dinuba High School student.
Most students on campus know that when the puppies are wearing their training vests they shouldn't play with or pet them.
There are nine students who are part of the guide dog training program. They bathe and groom the dogs, and even trim their nails. Teachers said the kids learn about responsibility. "I'm super excited the students are in love with the program, I'm in love with the program-- to see them give back really warms my heart," said Kari Wilterding, teacher.
"I really didn't think I was going to get involved in something like this, but I'm really happy that I did. I'm glad I did this program, it's a very special program," said Cisneros.
The dogs train at Dinuba High School for up to 18 months. Then they head to San Francisco for more training before they are matched with a blind person.
Ruiz 4 Kids provided a $500 grant to help make the program possible.