Thursday, July 26, 2012

Taking to the Skies - Hollywood Style!

By Alice Garcia, Leader and Puppy Raiser

On a recent Saturday outing, nearly 60 Guide Dogs for the Blind puppies-in-training and their raisers attended the K9 Flight School offered by Air Hollywood. Air Hollywood is an aviation-themed studio that serves the motion picture and television industry. The studio, located in Burbank Calif., provides airport terminal standing sets and airplane mock-ups for television, movie and commercial productions. Movies such as Bridesmaids, Money, and Charlie Wilson’s War, just to name a few, have been filmed at this location.
Waiting in the terminal

Going through the security gate
The K9 Flight School offers fundamental training to assure a dog and handler’s flying experience is easy and stress free. This was an excellent opportunity for our raisers and puppies-in-training to learn how to handle airport sights and sounds. GDB's Southern California Community Field Representative Rick Wilcox and Air Hollywood President and CEO Talaat Captan coordinated the event.

We began our experience by first entering the busy terminal where we were ushered to the departure gate. There, we encountered a woman in a wheelchair, lots of raisers and their dogs, and the friendly Air Hollywood staff and dog trainers.

On board the aircraftWe were called for boarding and our puppies were required to sit and wait as the raiser went through the TSA metal detector screening. The puppy was then called to “come” and a security wand and pat down was performed on the puppy before continuing down the jetway. Once we boarded the jumbo jet and were seated, the sounds associated with the flight attendant and captain’s announcements, luggage being loaded, and a jet taking off and landing were very authentic. In addition, an Air Turbulence simulator provided us with a bumpy flight and the opportunity for our dogs to experience turbulence. The dogs snoozed through the flight even though it was a hair-raising experience for some of the raisers. Some of our puppies and their raisers even had First-Class seating.

We then went to baggage claim where we encountered people with luggage carts and our puppies were provided with water bowls. We concluded the event with a group photo.

Group Photo

We are grateful to Sid Yost, from Top Dog Talent Agency, Tracy Oliver, a former GDB puppy raiser, and the other dog trainers that were on hand. They guided us through the training experience and gave us pointers on how to make this outing successful for our puppies and raisers. We hope to make this an annual event.


  1. It was a great event for both pups and raisers. I liked that the people putting on the event were so impressed with how the pups interacted or rather didn't interact with each other.

    Tina Strandskov and Pacer

  2. We had an amazing time with all of the dogs. The atmosphere was fun and the dogs seemed to enjoy the training exercise. Smiley came and he gives the program 4 paws up with a Woof!

  3. Great post, I really like the picture. The Van reminds me of my college roadtrip.

    puppy classes hollywood