The relationship between man and dog is centuries old. Partnering with humans working dogs do everything from herding livestock to protecting property, offering unconditional love and give visually impaired people the freedom of movement and independence.
References to service animals dates back to the 16th century and is reportedly introduced in the USA in 1927 by Morris Frank who lost his sight in an accident at age 6. When he was 20 years old the Vanderbilt University student booked passage to Europe and traveled alone across the ocean to meet the dog that offered what Frank described as “the divine gift of freedom.” After five weeks of intensive training, Frank returned home with his new companion, Buddy, and the pair traveled widely, demonstrating how a well-trained dog could help a blind person navigate even unfamiliar surroundings safely and with confidence. Their success inspired Frank and Dorothy Eustis, the American woman who ran the Swiss program, to launch the Seeing Eye, the first guide-dog training school in the United States, in 1929. Today, some 250 dogs—mostly German shepherds, Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers—complete training at the Seeing Eye in Morristown, N.J., every year. www.wikepedia.com
Guide dogs are trained to lead blind or visually impaired people around obstacles. It is a partnership between the handler and the dog to navigate daily outings, shopping, travelling, commuting unfamiliar territory. The training is based on the handler having the knowledge of how to get from one place to another and the dog guiding them safely from start to finish. Guide dogs are recognized internationally and regulations allow them to enter buildings, restaurants and transportation normally denied to non-working canines.
See how you can help the amazing organizations who train guide dogs by visiting the following websites or reaching out to your local community. A small donation on the anniversary of this astonishing bond between man and dog can go a long way in changing a blind person’s life by adding confidence, mobility, socialization and a friendship that lasts a life time in the heart.