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Wednesday, 20 February 2013 11:33

Pete’s Hardware employee Brenda Rae rings up a customer as service dog No. 13, “Halbert,” stands patiently nearby.



By Robert Souza





For more than 15 years, Brenda Rae of Castro Valley has put in long hours training Labrador pups to be service dogs for the blind and vision-impaired.

In that time she has volunteered to train 13 service dogs. For Rae, it is a personal mission. She experience sight problems as a child.

Each dog is trained to lead, obey commands and avoid distractions to assist the mobility of a person who cannot see.

On most days, Rae has “Halbert,” her pup-in-training, at her cashier station at Pete’s Hardware where she has worked for the past two years. She has concerns about the public wanting to pet or play with Halbert.

“It is important for the dog to stay focused because it is being prepared for duty and it’s important for people to leave it alone,” explains Rae, who keeps each dog-in-training leashed on a bed at the front of the store.

Monday morning, Rae’s thirteenth dog “Halbert” moved on to be placed in service. He was replaced by 9-1/2 week old “Randall” who will begin training.

For Rae it’s a labor of love. “My favorite thing about it is changing someone’s life by giving such a precious gift. These dogs literally change and enhance their lives and open doors for them,” she says.

Visit for more information on Guide Dogs For The Blind program or to learn more about how to volunteer for the organization.



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