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Guide dog carries on man’s legacy
Fairport, N.Y. - Werner is a dog named to carry on the legacy of a man who gave back to his community for many years.
That man, Werner Schmidt, died in 2010. He was a long time member of the Fairport Lion's Club - a club whose mission is to help the community and give sight.
"[The Lion's Club] was near and dear to our hearts," said Linda DePuy who trained Werner. "My husband's father had been a long time active member of the Lions Club."
Werner was the DePuy's thirteenth dog; they have been training guide dogs for the Guiding Eyes for the Blind since 1987. Right away, DePuy knew Werner was special.
"He was very quiet very mellow," she said, and learned it was also the demeanor of his name sake.
"He [Werner Schmidt] was a great guy, very calm, everybody loved him," said Kathy Markham of the Fairport Lion's Club. "It was very sad when we lost him."
With Werner's legacy living on - Werner the dog's work was just beginning.
"He was in guide dog training for about three to four months and they saw something very special in him," said DePuy. Werner was transferred to a special needs program.
"That program places dogs with someone who is visually impaired and has another disability," said DePuy. Werner graduated last weekend and now helping a man from California who is deaf, blind and mute.
Werner's initial training was all verbal, so when he was going to be placed with someone who was mute he had to relearn commands. He's owner gives him commands with taps on his leg, two taps for come and four taps for praise.
"I guess that there was a reason for him being so calm and quiet," said DePuy. "His mission in life now is that he needs to be a calm but assertive dog."