Immaculate Heart Academy

Skip to main content
Mobile Menu

Lily Polster'17 Raising Seeing Eye Dogs

Lily spends time every day working with and training her dog, and also attends bimonthly training and information meetings. She teaches them basic commands and exposes her dogs to daily life situations like sporting events; car, bus, and train rides; and walks through the mall. Typically, she trains her puppies for twelve to fifteen months before they are introduced to The Seeing Eye® formal training program.

Lily and her family first became familiar with The Seeing Eye® program when she was in kindergarten. The Polster’s neighbors trained a black labrador retriever puppy for The Seeing Eye®, and she wished for a dog of her own. When she was twelve years old, Lily and her mother went to their first meeting with The Seeing Eye®. They fell in love with the organization’s mission and puppies and, soon after, decided to apply for their own dog.

This past fall, Lily was elected as the president of the Bergen County Chapter of The Seeing Eye®. She said that being named president was nothing “extraordinary or celebratory,” but simply a sign to herself that others in the club respect and trust her to fulfill the role. Although she was delighted to be named president, Lily said she didn’t want to be elected simply for the title. 

“This organization has really changed my life,” she explained, “and I wanted to impact others’ lives in a bigger way. Being named president has allowed me to do just that.” Lily said her favorite part of the program is attending the bimonthly meetings, as she loves being around and interacting with the dogs.

“Bringing my puppy and seeing how happy she is with the other dogs always makes me smile,” Lily said. “The meetings are like a timeline; a new puppy arrives and an older puppy leaves to return to The Seeing Eye in Morristown. It is wonderful to be able to watch these young puppies grow up and mature into dogs ready to begin their formal training.”

In January 2015, Lily received the Best Friends Award, a special honor reserved for individuals “who constantly demonstrate extraordinary commitment to advancing the mission of The Seeing Eye through volunteer support and spreading awareness about issues affecting people who are blind.”

Although Lily’s respect for and commitment to this program is truly apparent, she said it is bittersweet to send the dogs back to Morristown to begin their formal training.

“It is sentimental even watching someone else’s puppy grow up and then return to The Seeing Eye. But raising a dog of your own for about fourteen months and then having to send him/her back is simply heart wrenching,” Lily said. “These dogs have become your family and you depend on them as they depend on you to be fed, walked, and groomed."

Lily said that in the back of her mind, she always remembers that sending them on their way is for the best. Knowing that her dog is potentially going to become a blind person’s companion is what motivates her to continue to raise puppies for The Seeing Eye®.

She hopes to continue volunteering with The Seeing Eye® for as long as possible, including in college if the school of her choice permits it. She would even like to continue raising puppies after college.

“When a person loses his/her sense of sight, he/she also loses much freedom and independence,” she said. “I would like to help blind people regain their freedom through the companionship of a Seeing Eye dog and that is why I will continue raising them.” 

For more information about Seeing Eye, please visit