Guide dogs of America are a service or assistance dogs that help blind and partially blind people around obstacles and other hurdles. The dogs are trained to direct the visually impaired handler from one place to another, safely. The pups are trained since born and have excel in obedience skills. The dogs are allowed at all the places by law and ethics even if they have a sign saying “NO Animals Allowed”
First Guide Dog Institution in America
The history of service dog schools’ dates back to 16th century and the first institution was set up in Germany during World War I. The survivors of the war were directed back to camps with the help of these dogs. In America first Guide Dog Institution was named as The Seeing Dog in 1929 by Morris Frank in Nashville, New Jersey.
Several other training schools joined in the stream of guide dogs and are providing services to visually impaired humans and people with hearing disorders. Another renowned institution was International Guiding Eyes in 1948 with no discrimination of age. It was renamed as Guide Dogs of America.
One of the most interesting facts about this institution is that it was founded by a Blind man. Joseph Jones, Sr. Became blind and was not provided with a service of guide dog because he was overage. This rule not only broke Joseph but also motivated him to make his own guide dog institution to help people in need irrespective of an age limit.
Breed matters a lot especially when you are training a guide dog. The dog must be attentive, friendly, obedient, sensitive, be tolerant of the current situation and should require low maintenance. The most favourable and preferred breed is Golden Retriever and Labrador. Golden Retriever and Labrador cross are also very popular with the guide dogs.
Another cute breed is a mate between a Labrador and a Poodle dog known as labradoodle. The cute little pups are easier to carry, are sensitive to their environment. Labradoodles who don’t shed a lot are easier to keep and require low maintenance.
German Shepherds have also been serving the humans but since their aggressive nature, they sometimes seem a bit unfriendly in public places. The most favourite dog breed for guiding dogs is Labrador Retriever.
Training of Guide Dogs
Guide dogs are the “Chosen” dogs that are bred in institutions specified for their training. Most of these puppies are kept in a volunteer’s home or with a foster family to help them develop a friendly interaction with human beings. After a year of developing social skills, the pups are taken for proper training where they learn obedience, navigation, response and other helpful skills. This training takes place daily for around 3-6 months under the supervision of a professional trainer.
The guide dog is then paired with their partner human and a get-to-know-each-other session takes place. The human in need and the guide dog then practice their daily chores together. Guide Dogs are the eyes of their human partner. They act like a pilot and their human acts as an aircraft.
How do Guide Dogs help/work?
Guide dogs are trained to deal with all the possible situations their keeper/ partner might come across. The dogs are trained to respond to verbal commands by their human keeper. Their training teaches them to ignore people, gatherings and different types of smell.
By maintaining a continuous speed and moving their keeper steadily around the obstacles and stairs the guide dog helps their partner in mobility and makes their life easier. Since the presence of guide dog in restaurants and public transport is exempted from laws, it becomes uncomplicated for the visually impaired humans to socialize and carry out their usual chores in a respective manner.
Our responsibility as a citizen
Guide dogs are just trained dogs making the lives of the people in need, easier. We as fellow humans must not only help the visually impaired in public but also take care of the guide dogs around us. There are some minor things that should be kept in mind while coming across a guide dog performing his duty.
- Keep one thing in mind that an animal is an animal, please don’t test its patience.
- Don’t offer food to a guide dog.
- Avoid commanding a guide dog, it might confuse him.
- Keep away from the dog while he is leading his partner.
- It’s hard to resist but don’t pet or disturb the dog.
- Always be ready to lend a hand when someone needs help.
Source of Guide Dogs in America
There are several organizations working for this cause and helping people around the country and across the border. You can either apply online or pay a visit to the institution for requesting a guide dog. Guide Dogs of America is an active organization working for the last 70 years and serving humanity. It provides guide dogs in America and in Canada as well.
Bring a change
Students can get themselves enrolled in any of GDA (Guide Dogs of America) program and graduate in any of the specified fields. One can volunteer in any of the services such as breeding, puppy training or development.
If you are a certified vet, you can voluntarily offer your services for a cause and make this world a better place to live in.