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Dan sitting on a bench with Halifax Harbour in the background, and Lewis at his feet, Lewis has his tongue hanging out.

Raising Lewis

In the docuseries, Makings of a Guide Dog, Lawrence Gunther was partnered with Lewis, a black lab-golden retriever cross with a strong sense of adventure and fun. But as soon as his harness is on, Lewis is all business. He has an important job to do.

A perfect blend of playfulness and seriousness, Lewis is the ideal match for Lawrence. An avid outdoorsman, Lawrence's guide dog will accompany him on many adventures – from boating and hiking to cross-country skiing and ice-fishing. 

Before Lewis was partnered with Lawrence, he spent his first year in Halifax with his puppy raiser, Dan O'Brien. In addition to providing a safe and loving home for Lewis, Dan has provided obedience training and socialization – all while running his own graphic design business. 

Dan is an animal lover who has raised and trained therapy dogs to visit patients in Halifax-area hospitals. When he saw an ad in his local newspaper for CNIB volunteer puppy raisers, he knew he had to apply.

Lewis arrived in Halifax at eight weeks old, and spent the next 12 months going everywhere with Dan.

“It’s important to give your dog a new experience each day,” says Dan, noting that guide dogs in training must be ready to work in the real world without getting distracted.

“It’s important to have them meet about 100 different people while you're raising them. This may sound daunting, but it’s easier than you might think, says Dan." When I was raising Lewis, I took him everywhere – restaurants, movie theatres, shopping, even to the local coffee shop.” 

It's fair to say that Dan helped instill a sense of adventure. Those daily outings to new places may have seemed like fun to Lewis, but they helped prepare him for the challenges of advanced training. 

When Lewis was 14 months old, he made the trek to the Canine Campus in Carleton Place, Ontario. There, he was introduced to the harness and the basics of the guiding role, including working safely with a handler.

"It wasn't easy sending Lewis off to advanced training, so I was very grateful to receive my second future guide dog (Luna) a week before Lewis' departure, which helped me keep busy – and took my mind off missing Lewis."

Today, Lewis is thriving as a CNIB Guide Dog and Dan couldn't be prouder.