man petting his guide dog

Guide Dog Training: An Apprentice’s Story

Nearsighted is pleased to welcome Guide Dogs for the Blind apprentice trainer Jason Bellucci-King.

Belo Cipriani: Did you have any dogs growing up?

Jason Bellucci-King: My mom got us a Jack Russell Terrier mix for my 11th birthday. Her name was Sally and she lived until she was 17. She was an amazing pup that taught me a lot about communicating with dogs.

Belo: Where did you work before joining Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB)?

Jason: I have a varied professional background that began in the real estate industry when I was fresh out of high school. I worked my way up and eventually spent most of my time as an mortgage underwriter. After the real estate market shifted, I worked as a low voltage field technician installing phone and data systems for high-end residential clients for a couple years. I then got a job at a local pet food supply store and worked there as I was going to school for an EMT certification.

Belo: How did you hear about GDB?

Jason: After I received my certification, I was looking for a job on an ambulance when a good friend of mine told me about GDB. We had been friends through high school and worked at the same mortgage company together. She was a puppy raiser when she was younger and had just gotten settled into a position as a Canine Welfare Tech in the training kennels. She encouraged me to apply and I was very intrigued and began volunteering over the summer as a lifeguard at the old dorm to wait for an entry level position to open up.

Belo: When did you decide you wanted to train guide dogs?

Jason: Once I started working in the kennel and learning more about what GDB does everyday.

Belo: How far along are you in the apprentice program?

Jason: I’ve just entered my 3rd year as an apprentice.

Belo: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Jason: Multitasking — it doesn’t come naturally for me.

Belo: Where are some of the dogs you’ve trained working now? (city, state etc.)

Jason: Dogs that I’ve trained are working in California, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia in the USA, as well as in Ontario and Alberta in Canada.

Belo: What is your favorite part of the job?

Jason: Everything.

Belo: What does your family think about your profession?

Jason: They are very proud of me and extremely supportive.

Belo: How many dogs have you trained?

Jason: Almost 30 so far.

Belo: What’s next for you career wise? (taking tests, etc.)

Jason: Looking forward to going through the certification process and getting a GDMI license within the next year.

Belo: Any tips you can share about training or grooming?

Jason: Follow your dog.

 

Jason Bellucci-King is an apprentice trainer at Guide Dogs for the Blind. Learn more about the largest guide dog school in the United States at www.guidedogs.com

Who is Belo Cipriani?

Belo Cipriani is the Writer-in-Residence at Holy Names University, a spokesperson for Guide Dogs for the Blind, and the author of Blind: A Memoir. You are invited to connect with him on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube.

 

Photo courtesy of Guide Dogs for the Blind

Belo Cipriani View more

Belo Cipriani is the award-winning author of Blind: A Memoir and Midday Dreams. He is a disability advocate, a spokesman for Guide Dogs for the Blind, and is currently the national spokesman for 100 Percent Wine -- a premium winery that donates 100 percent of proceeds to nonprofits that help people with disabilities find work.