The non-profit Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) turns 60 this year! Through their programs, dogs like the ones pictured here transform the lives of owners.
The largest guide dog school in North America, GDB provides guide dogs free of charge to qualified candidates. More than 16,000 guide dog teams have graduated from GDB since 1942.
According to the GDB website, it takes an average of 251 volunteers to help a puppy become a guide dog.
First, the pups learn to be best friends and companions! The puppies live with hosts who use specialized positive reinforcement training until they are ready for professional guide dog training at 14 to 16 months old.
Professional mobility trainers teach the dogs to work as guides over 12 weeks at the GDB campus. Then, they spend two weeks with their human partner learning to form a guide dog team.
The following quotes come from GDB graduates:
Some graduates have become internet famous! Here’s a quote from Tom Castle, owner of guide dog and Instagram star Maple.
Guide Dogs for the Blind vice president Susan Armstrong described guide dog teams as true partnerships with the human as the navigator and the dog as the pilot. More than providing safety, the dogs also provide greater inclusion in the community for their human partners.
Armstrong said, “Our dogs serve as social bridges to the community. . . . our clients experience great inclusion and opportunity.” She also provided a reminder “to ask before interacting with a working guide [or service] dog.”
Interested in hearing more stories from GDB graduates, read the full article at Daily Paws.
Image credit: Guide Dogs for the Blind website