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Douglas Fuchs considers himself to be very fortunate. He has a great job as the chief of police in Redding, a loving extended family, a beautiful home and good health.
Fuchs feels that it is important to give back… just because.
A dog lover, he became aware of an organization called Fidelco that raises and trains dogs to help sightless people navigate their world.
Realizing that this was a good opportunity to involve his family…even family dog Maggie could help out… he agreed to become a puppy trainer for 14 months.
This idea became a reality when he met Kato.
Bred from an over 50-year-old line of Bavarian German Shepherds, Kato was just a couple of months old when the Fuchs family met him. It was easy to fall in love with his sweet personality, huge ears and eyes and very big feet.
Kato has been with Doug Fuchs almost 24/7 since August 2016. The two would arrive at work at the police station, with Kato making a home under the desk or in a crate next to Fuchs’ chair while the Chief worked. He traveled around Redding, to the schools, to meetings, on vacation and just about anywhere that the Chief went.
And, wherever they went, people would thank Fuchs for bringing him. He said, “I was worried in the beginning about Kato being an imposition to others. But, the graciousness of the people we met was phenomenal.”
Doug and Kato in September 2016 and September 2017
Kato and Fuchs went to puppy school about 3 times a month in Fidelco’s Wilton location. That soon became twice and then once a month.
In October, it will be time for Kato to leave his current family.
Fuchs says that raising Kato has been like raising a “little gentlemen.” Its almost time for this young man to go off to college: full time at Fidelco’s Bloomfield, CT location where for the next 6 months he will work with his trainer and then go off in the world to help someone who needs him. Knowing that will make saying goodbye a little easier.
Fidelco CEO Eliot Russman said it’s a testament to the Fuchs family commitment that Kato is such a well-trained dog. Russman, a Redding resident, said that without volunteers, the organization would not be able to fulfill their mission in creating an enduring partnership with their clients. Fidelco is blessed to have volunteers from the community.
Eliot Russman, Kato and Doug Fuchs
What’s the next step for Kato after he starts his professional training? He will be matched with a trainer and together they will go through the 10-step program including blindfolded walks (the trainer, not Kato!) around Hartford, Boston and New York City.
About 50% of the puppies are placed as guide dogs for the blind. Some find careers in law enforcement and although they are bred to be working dogs, others who are not suited to this work may become family pets.
Fidelco is looking for volunteers. If you don’t have the time to devote to being one of their 120 puppy raisers, there is still a lot you can do. Russman said to bring your passion to Fidelco and with gratitude; they will find the spot that is right for you.
Volunteers are also needed to host fundraisers.
If you can’t make a time commitment, donations are always needed and your company just may do a matching gift. Please also consider purchasing items that support the organization in the Fidelco gift shop
Russman said he looks forward to calling Fuchs to tell him where Kato has been assigned. He could be partnered with a sight impaired or blind person anywhere in the US or parts of Canada.
Doug Fuchs said without fail, he will do it again. Raising Kato has been a meaningful part of his life. Knowing that his buddy will be helping others makes it easier to say goodbye.