by John Ramos

OAKLAND (KPIX) — An airport is usually a bustling, confusing place. There are signs, of course — thousands of them. But what if you couldn’t read them? You’d need some help.

Oakland International got a whole lot cuter on Sunday when Guide Dogs for the Blind brought together more than 25 puppies-in-training to sniff around and get comfortable with the place.

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“We are socializing them so when they become a guide dog, they are familiar with the surroundings,” said Annelise Cady a puppy-raiser with Tri-Valley Guide Dogs.

Alaska Airlines welcomed the young trainees to its ticket counter, boarding gates, baggage-claim area and even let them walk through one of its airplanes. Everything was a mystery to be explored. In such a noisy, active environment, dogs need to be calm if they’re going to help someone who cannot see.

Puppy-raiser Joelle Cook listed a few of the nerve-wracking conditions dogs need to overcome.

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“For example, the luggage coming down and crashing, going through security — having a stranger hold on to them and the beeps that all the machines make, getting into a small narrow space on a plane,” she said.

It’s amazing how the animals can tune in to their masters’ needs. Theresa Stern remembered coming to this terminal with her previous guide dog when he suddenly began pulling her off to the side.

“So I just went with it,” she recalls. “I Just followed him, to see what he’s doing. (He went) straight to the ladies room and that’s exactly where I wanted to go!”

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Guide Dogs for the Blind charges nothing for its services. If you’d like to volunteer or make a donation go to: