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International Guide Dog Day is celebrated this year on April 26th, a day when we like to honor these incredible and incomparable service dogs and those who train them. These puppers give independence to the humans they support and have a relationship with their pet parents that is unparalleled.
History of Guide Dogs
According to the International Guide Dog Federation, guide dogs as we know it were nurtured through the work of an American living in Switzerland, Dorothy Harrison Eustis, just after World War I. European and American tours were held to convince the public that service dogs could assist people easily on public transportation and into other public areas. The idea spread quickly and soon dogs accompanying the blind was the norm. Currently, there are 1,720 active teams of guide dog and human in The Seeing Eye organization.
Becoming a Guide Dog
From health screens to lifelong training, guide dogs are in a superior class all their own. These helpful furry friends are raised by volunteers until they’re a little over a year old, then they are returned for intense training. Soon, they will be adopted by a person who then goes through further training and acclimation with the dog.
Getting Involved with Guide Dogs
You can volunteer to raise a pup in his or her earliest stages of life with basic obedience, love, and socialization, or you can volunteer on other levels that include administrative help, foster care, and breeder support. Most states have a guide dog resource, should you need their services or wish to volunteer.
One final note: remember to respect all service animals by not petting them, remember that pups on the job need to be focused at all times to help their people, should a medical emergency arise.