Guide dogs train for air travel in Portland

Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air host Guide Dogs for the Blind

Dozens of guide dogs in training learned to navigate an airplane, Oct. 7, 2017. (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – Guide dogs practiced boarding an airplane and maneuvering through the cabin Saturday in Portland.

Dozens of guide dogs in training learned to navigate an airplane, Oct. 7, 2017. (KOIN)

Alaska Airlines, Horizon Air and Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) teamed up to help puppies-in-training prepare to help their future blind or visually-impaired partner travel more safely and independently.

“What we’re able to do is start small,” GDB outreach alumni representative Jake Koch said. “So there’s no hurry (for the dogs) to get on and off the airplane, there’s not a lot of noise, there’s not a lot of other people around. We can be very controlled about introducing something as complicated as flying to a dog in a very positive but still realistic way.”

GDB staff were also on hand to provide travel and training tips for their puppy raisers, volunteers who raise the puppies until they are old enough to get formal training.

“These puppy club raisers are creating these animals that are going to just change the lives of people who are blind or have low vision,” said Ray Prentice, director of customer advocacy for Alaska Airlines.