Large Print Reviews

Guide Dogs - Eyes for the Blind

Home | What's New | Reviews | Articles | Travel | Links | Search
Large Print Bookstore | Low Vision Product Store

Guide Dogs: Eyes for the Blind
By Rochelle Caviness - Updated December 7, 2003

The use of mustard gas during World War One left thousands of young men blinded. To help provide these men with a sense of independence, formal training schools for guide dogs were established throughout Europe. Paired with blind veterans, these guide dogs helped assist their partners to move about in the strange world that they found themselves.

In 1928, Buddy, a German Shepherd, became the first officially recognized, American, guide dog for the blind.

Who qualifies for a guide dog? Cost of getting a dog? What types of dogs become guide dogs? How are the dogs trained?

6-8 weeks of age dogs go through initial screening. They are judged for health, alertness and temperament.

8-9 weeks of age dogs are placed in foster homes or with puppy raisers. They will spend almost a year in the foster home; there they will be acclimated to a normal home environment and taught basic obedience skills.

14-18 months of age dogs will be returned to the training facility, where they will be rescreened. Those that pass this screening will begin formal training as a guide dog. Those that do not pass this screening, as well as those that "flunk out" during training are put up for adoption.

Next 4-5 months Formal training. The dogs are taught all the skills they will need to act as guides. By the end of training they will know over forty verbal and hand commands, ranging from SIT to FORWARD.

Next they spend about a month training with their new partner, and then it is off to work.

The average working life of a guide dog is 8-10 years.

Final step retirement and a life of ease as a full time pet!

Don't interfere with a working guide dog!

When working, guide dogs wear a harness with a handle for their partner's to hold onto. His safety, and that of his partner, depends upon his ability to concentrate upon his job. Therefore:

The Guide Dog and Its Human...

Living and working together, the guide dog and its human partner form an intense bond. Their only means of communication is body language, and hand and voice commands of the human. Despite these limitations, they are able to work as a cohesive unit. Although the dogs are fantastic aids, they are not psychic. The human has to tell the dog where it wants to go. The dog follows those commands, guiding is its human partner around and over obstacles, such as steps. The dog also provides its human with companionship and an increased sense of self-sufficiency, due to the increase mobility that the dog affords the human.

Legally, guide dogs are allowed to accompany their human partners anywhere the public is allowed.

Related Articles:
Back to top

About LPR | Site Map | Privacy Policy

Questions or Comments? Send an email to:

Copyright Large Print Reviews 2003 - All Rights Reserved