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February 14, 2019

A Valentine for Harpo, Adelphi’s Guide Dog in Training

by Liza N. Burby

During the Fall 2018 semester, students in need of a little love and puppy therapy could find it in the Harvey Hall office of Daryl Gordon, Ph.D., associate dean for academic affairs in the College of Education and Health Sciences, in the form of an 18-month-old black Labrador named Harpo. Dr. Gordon’s temporary office mate even knew the students’ schedules so well that he’d be waiting at the door in anticipation of their enthusiastic greetings.

While this puppy love was welcomed by both canine and humans, Harpo had another purpose. Dr. Gordon volunteers as a puppy raiser for Guiding Eyes for the Blind, a nonprofit in Yorktown Heights, New York, that trains guide dogs to lead the blind and visually impaired. Before Harpo, she raised Gadget, a yellow Lab that now serves as a guide dog to a man in Michigan.

Part of raising Harpo was making sure he’s socialized in all the places a visually impaired person might take their dog. That’s why he was seen visiting Swirbul Library and classes like a first-year seminar.

Harpo “graduated with honors,” so to speak, from his Adelphi residency. “He aced his entry exam for ‘guide dog college’ and will now enter a six-month phase of specialized training with Guiding Eyes for the Blind before beginning his work as a guide dog who will provide independence for someone with visual impairment,” she said.

Of course, this meant she had to give him back to Guiding Eyes. But the students’ campaign to get Dr. Gordon to take in another puppy worked: Expect a new guide dog in training and more puppy therapy this spring.


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