Social media guide dog North AmericaPresentation Transcript
International Guide Dogs
Brief overviews of each organization
Rachel Webber 2014
We are all Connected
Table of Contents
Pages 4-18 : International Guide Dog Federation
Page 19,20 : Guide Dog Users, Inc.
Pages 23-36 : Leader Dogs
Pages 37-43 : Seeing Eye
Pages 44-51 : Fidelco
Pages 52-60 : Southeastern
Pages 61-70 : Freedom
Pages 71-80 : Guide Dog Foundation
Pages 81-104 : Guiding Eyes
Pages 105-140 : Cali/Ore Guide dogs
Pages 142-148: Canadian Guide Dogs
Pages 149-148: Mira
Pages 114-*: BC & Alberta
Pages 116-128 : UK Guide Dogs
Pages 176-186: Pathfinders
Pages 129-* : Irish
Pages 131-* : Japan
Pages 134-* : Taiwan & Huikuang
Pages 136-* : Hong Kong
Pages 138-* : Lara
Pages 140-* : South African
International Guide Dog
The International Guide Dog
Federation (IGDF) was formed in
1989, following meetings over several
years of Guide Dog organizations
around the World.
The IGDF facilitates a sharing of
knowledge, experience, highest
quality standards, methodologies and
help for new or existing schools
wanting to improve the quality of
All of this is focused on improving the
safe independent mobility of blind
and vision impaired people
throughout the world.
An Accreditation and Assessment process
which ensures that operational standards
are maintained and improved in relation
to the world benchmark high quality
A biennial seminar to facilitate exchange
The IGDF office acts as a communication
hub, which keeps members informed,
manages the website, facilitates links to
areas of expertise
A biannual International professional
The ability to get advice about breeding,
Guide Dog Instructor or dog training,
facility set up and management, access,
marketing, fundraising and operational
The sharing of ideas and experiences
Possible exchange of puppies, dogs or
History of IGDF
The idea of the International Federation of Guide Dog Schools for the Blind
(IFGDSB) - as it was originally known - stems from conferences held in France
(1973) and London (1976). At the conclusion of the third international
conference in Vienna in 1983, attendees agreed the formation of a European-
based group to consider "the formulation of guidelines and standards for the
training of dogs and to teach blind people the use of dogs". The meeting agreed
that the Royal Dutch Guide Dog Centre would consolidate the work of a
working group consisting of representatives from the UK, Holland, France,
Scandinavia and Switzerland and that other guide dog schools could be invited
This led to a meeting at Leamington in September 1986 at which 28 delegates
from 15 schools and 10 countries considered the papers prepared by the Vienna
working group. Following discussion, the document was rewritten and ratified
by delegates. The next task of the Vienna working group was to draft proposals
for the establishment of an international organisation. These proposals were
considered in October 1987 at a conference attended by guide dog organisations
worldwide and were discussed with solicitors on 5th October 1987.
In April 1988, another international conference was held, attended by 40
delegates from 16 countries, representing 25 guide dog organisations. At the
end of the two day debate, delegates from all schools signed a document
prepared by solicitors, forming an unincorporated association known as "The
International Provisional Council for Guide Dog Schools for the Blind". They
appointed an executive body consisting of members of the original 1983 Vienna
History of IGDF
The Council then worked with solicitors to draft the Memorandum and Articles of
Association establishing the IFGDSB as a registered company in the United
Kingdom - legal documents that were ratified on 12th April1989. The new
organisation was created to focus upon:
animal breeding, care and veterinary matters
staff selection and training
student selection and training
This decision to found it was taken by these original schools in order to meet the
growing demand of guide dog organisations, looking for an international federation
that would recognise, and unite, all other similar guide dog service providers around
the world. This new organisation was therefore set up:
to allow the organisations to communicate with each other
to exchange information and experience in the area of breeding, training, handling
and assessing the dogs
to act as a body which would offer advice to its individual members
In 1992, inspection of member schools began. Schools were accredited by an agreed
list of assessors within agreed operational guidelines. A newsletter was also
initiated. By 1996, the Federation had 45 members and a seminar on dog breeding
and genetics was held.
By 2000, there were 61 international members, the Assessment Committee became
the Accreditation Committee and Products, Training and Research Working Groups
were formed. By now, seminars were an important biennial event, bringing
members together from across the world. In 2001, attempts were made to increase
History of Guide Dogs
While there is evidence that man's relationship with wolves stretches back 400,000
years, man's domestication of dogs coincides with the evolution of early breeds of
dogs about 150,000 years ago.
The first special relationship between a dog and a blind person is lost in the mists of
time, but perhaps the earliest recorded example is depicted in a first-century AD
mural in the buried ruins of Roman Heculaneum. There are other records from Asia
and Europe up to the Middle Ages, of dogs leading blind men.
However, the first systematic attempt to train dogs to aid blind people came around
1780 at 'Les Quinze-Vingts' hospital for the blind in Paris. Shortly afterwards, in
1788, Josef Riesinger, a blind sieve-maker from Vienna, trained a Spitz so well that
people often questioned whether he was blind.
In 1819, Johann Wilhelm Klein, founder of the Institute for the Education of the
Blind (Blinden-Erziehungs-Institut) in Vienna, mentioned the concept of the guide
dog in his book on educating blind people (Lehrbuch zum Unterricht der Blinden)
and described his method for training dogs. A Swiss man, Jakob Birrer, wrote in
1847 about his experiences of being guided over a period of five years by a dog he
had specially trained.
The modern guide dog story, however, begins during the First World War, with
thousands of soldiers returning from the Front blinded, often by poison gas. A
German doctor, Dr Gerhard Stalling, got the idea of training dogs en masse to help
those affected. While walking with a patient one day through the hospital grounds,
he was called away urgently and left his dog with the patient as company. When he
returned, he saw signs, from the way the dog was behaving, that it was looking after
History of Guide Dogs
Dr Stalling started to explore ways of training dogs to become reliable guides and in
August 1916 opened the world's first guide dog school for the blind in Oldenburg.
The school grew and many new branches opened in Bonn, Breslau, Dresden, Essen,
Freiburg, Hamburg, Magdeburg, Münster and Hannover, training up to 600 dogs a
year. These schools provided dogs not only to ex-servicemen, but also to blind people
in Britain, France, Spain, Italy, the United States, Canada and the Soviet Union.
Unfortunately, due to a reduction in dog quality, the venture had to shut down in
1926, but by that time another large guide dog training centre had opened in
Potsdam, near Berlin, which was proving to be highly successful. This school's work
broke new ground in the training of guide dogs and it was capable of accommodating
around 100 dogs at a time and providing up to 12 fully-trained guide dogs a month.
Around this time, a wealthy American woman, Dorothy Harrison Eustis, was
already training dogs for the army, police and customs service in Switzerland. It
was to be Dorothy Eustis's energy and expertise that would properly launch the
guide dog movement internationally.
Having heard about the Potsdam centre, Eustis was curious to study the school's
methods and spent several months there. She came away so impressed that she
wrote an article about it for the Saturday Evening Post in America in October 1927.
A blind American man, Morris Frank, heard about the article and bought a copy of
the newspaper. He later said that the five cents the newspaper cost him "bought an
article that was worth more than a million dollars to me. It changed my life". He
wrote to Eustis, telling her that he would very much like to help introduce guide
dogs to the United States.
History of Guide Dogs
Taking up the challenge, Dorothy Eustis trained a dog, Buddy, and brought Frank
over to Switzerland to learn how to work with the dog. Frank went back to the
United States with what many believe to be America's first guide dog. Eustis later
established the Seeing Eye School in Morristown, New Jersey, in 1929, but before
this went back to Switzerland to do further work there. Meanwhile, an Italian
Guide Dog organisation, Sculola Nazionale Cani Guida per Ciechi was also
established in 1928.
The success of the United States experience encouraged Eustis to set up guide a dog
school at Vevey in Switzerland in 1928. She called this school, like the one a year
later in New Jersey, 'L'Oeil qui Voit', or The Seeing Eye (the name comes from the
Old Testament of the Bible - 'the hearing ear and the seeing eye', Proverbs, XX, 12).
The schools in Vevey, New Jersey and Italy were the first guide dog schools of the
modern era that have survived the test of time.
In 1930, two British women, Muriel Crooke and Rosamund Bond, heard about The
Seeing Eye and contacted Dorothy Eustis, who sent over one of her trainers. In
1931, the first four British guide dogs completed their training and three years later
The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association was founded in the UK.
Since then, guide dog schools have opened all round the world, and more open their
doors every decade. Thousands of people have had their lives transformed by guide
dogs, thanks to the organisations that provide them. The commitment of the people
who work for these organisations, and the people who financially support them, is as
deep today as it ever was, and the heirs of Dorothy Eustis's legacy continue to work
for the increased mobility, dignity and independence of blind and partially-sighted
people the world over. The movement goes on.
History of Guide Dogs
79 Excavations in Pompeii reveal a wall-painting of a blind man apparently being
led by his dog.
1200 A Chinese scroll, now in the Metropolitan Museum in New York shows a blind
man being led by a dog.
1260 An Irish reference, attributed to Bartholomew, of a dog guiding a blind man.
1500-1700 Similar references appear more frequently throughout the 16th Century
in woodcuts, engravings and paintings throughout the world.
1715 The "Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green" is a ballad about a knight who lost his
sight in a battle and subsequently became a beggar. His friends gave him a dog on a
lead and, also, a bell.
1727 Gainsborough (1727-1788) painted "Blind Man on the Bridge" which depicts a
dog leading its master.
1755 William Bigg (1755-1828) depicts "The Blind Sailor" crossing a narrow bridge
with the help of his dog.
1790 Thomas Bewick (1753-1828) produced some engravings for his book "A
General History of Quadrupeds". One engraving showed a blind man being lead
across a bridge by a dog.
1813 An engraving was published in the magazine "Das Auge" (The Eye) by George
Joseph Beer, a leading Viennese eye specialist. Beer wanted to highlight the man in
the foreground wearing glasses, but in the background there is a blind man working
History of Guide Dogs
1819 The earliest surviving description of a systematic method of training guide dogs was
published by Dr. Johann Wilhelm Klein in Vienna. Klein became the Director of the
Institute for the Education of the Blind in Vienna. His book describes a method of
training the dogs with a stick attached to the collar and held in the left hand. The stick
had a crossbar, which may have given information about the sideways movement of the
dog, as well as the forward movement. Klein no longer had the dog on a leash and the
blind man no longer used a walking stick. Unfortunately the idea of using a primitive
type of harness was not built upon and remained unused for almost 100 years.
1847 Jacob Birrer (blind Swiss man) published a book highlighting the use of training
dogs as guides. Once again the strategy was back to leads and walking sticks. His ideas
were not developed any further.
1864 In Trollope's novel, "Can You Forgive Her", Lady Glenorca tells the Duke of St.
Bungay that she will lead him as "the little dogs lead blind men".
1878 British Parliament exempts licence fees for "shepherds' dogs and "those kept by the
blind as guides".
1899 A drawing from "The Graphic" shows how dogs trained by the German Red Cross
Ambulance Dogs Association were used to help the wounded on the battlefield. The
Director, Dr. Gerhard Stalling, used these same dogs in early attempts to guide blinded
veterans. This is the start of using larger breeds of dogs, mostly Collies, as guides.
1914-18 World War 1 re-sparked interest in guide dog due to so many young men being
blinded following exposure to mustard gas or as the result of shell shock. The German
Red Cross Ambulance Dogs Association established a training centre in Oldenberg. The
first guide dog was issued in 1916 to a blinded veteran, Paul Feyen. Within a year there
were 100 guide dogs issued and 539 guide dogs had been issued by 1919. In 1922, the first
History of Guide Dogs
1923 Blinded Veterans were now dealt with by the German Shepherd Dog
Association, which opened a training school in 1923 in Potsdam. This group
formalised the training methods that are common to most guide dog schools today,
i.e. selecting good dogs, careful matching, following-up in the home environment. By
the 1930's there were around 4,000 qualified guide dogs in Germany.
1925 The original school in Oldenberg was formally taken over by the German
Association for the Blind.
1927 George and Dorothy Eustis, who were selectively breeding German Shepherd
dogs in their Fortunate Fields kennels in Switzerland, visited the Potsdam School.
Highly impressed, Dorothy Eustis wrote to an American newspaper with her
account of the visit. This was published in November 1927. Many letters flooded
back from the United States, and one, in particular, from Morris Frank, stimulated
Dorothy Eustis and Jack Humphrey, the head trainer at her Fortunate Fields
kennels, to work with Potsdam trainers to prepare a dog for Morris.
1928 Morris Frank arrived in Switzerland in April and trained with Guide Dog
"Buddy". Morris and "Buddy" returned to New York in June. They faced sceptical
journalists, but won them over by crossing a wide, busy street without injury, and
this incident received wide press coverage.
History of Guide Dogs
1929 Mrs. Eustis established the Seeing Eye School in Morristown, New Jersey.
Realising that the major problem would be training suitable Instructors, she
returned to Switzerland. There she established a training school near her Fortunate
Fields kennels. It was here that she also started training her own guide dogs.
1931 Mrs. Eustis trained and supplied ten dogs to Italy, eleven to France, and
three to Switzerland. Mrs. Eustis also qualified four Guide Dog Instructors that
year. Two went to the Seeing Eye School in New York one to Italy and one, Captain
Laikhoff, went to the UK. There, he established a centre in Cheshire where the first
four British guide dogs completed their training. Quarantine regulations hindered
trained guide dogs being sent to Britain and a search commenced for other suitable
breeds to train. These were predominantly Labradors.
1932 Mrs. Eustis loaned Georges Gabriel (from Switzerland) to run the second
guide dog class in Britain.
1933 Mrs. Eustis, again, loaned Georges Gabriel to run the third guide dog class in
1934 Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (GDBA) was established.
1940 Leamington Spa opened as the first UK guide dog Training Centre.
GUIDE DOG USERS INC.
Supporting Guide Dog Teams Since 1972
In an effort to assist people in reviewing all of the information about
the many aspects of training with a guide dog, GDUI has compiled a
survey. Those schools who participated have answered questions on
a variety of topics. Visit the GDUI Guide Dog School Survey pages
for more information.
Guide Dog Users, Inc. is, first and foremost, an advocacy
organization, assisting individual members with advice and useful
contact information and advocating at both state and Federal levels
on behalf of the guide-dog handling population. Our widely-praised,
award-winning advocacy achievements are accomplished through
legislative and judicial efforts as well as public education.
GDUI helps individuals who face discrimination involving housing,
employment, entry to public places and transportation. GDUI's
many affiliates around the country work tirelessly to assure that
guide dog handlers in their areas have equal access to taxi cabs,
doctors' offices and restaurants with their guide dogs.
Members also educate Congress, state and local legislatures and
government agencies about the role of guide dogs and other
assistance animals. GDUI prides itself on its work with coalitions
both inside and outside of the assistance animal movement to
strengthen our rights.
Guide Dog School Surveys 2006
Downloadable PDFs of the 2006 Surveys are available, see printed results provided separately
Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, Inc., Connecticut
Freedom Guide Dogs for the Blind, New York
Guide Dogs of America, California
Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc., California & Oregon
Guide Dogs of the Desert International, California
Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc., New York
Guide Dogs of Texas, Inc., Texas only
Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Inc., New York
Kansas Specialty Dog Service, Kansas
Leader Dogs for the Blind, Inc., Michigan
Pilot Dogs, Inc., Ohio
Southeastern Guide Dogs, Inc., Florida
The Seeing Eye, Inc., New Jersey
Leader dogs For the Blind
Leader Dogs for the Blind
Rochester Hills, Michigan
Founded by three Detroit-area
Lions Clubs members in 1939,
Leader Dogs for the Blind
provides guide dogs to people who
are blind and visually impaired to
enhance their mobility,
independence and quality of life.
Each year, over 270 clients attend
our 26-day residential training
program to be paired with a guide
This is a life-changing event that
opens the door to independence,
safety and self-worth for many of
In addition to our guide dog
program, we offer programs
that enhance a person’s
independence and quality of
life in other ways, including:
Orientation and mobility
Seminars for Orientation and
Breeds Used: Labrador Retriever 80%,
Golden Retriever 15%, German Shepherd
Puppy Raising: local, distance, inmate prison
A puppy raiser is
responsible for raising
a Future Leader Dog
for a period of
months according to
The raiser will provide
the puppy with:
love and nurturing
good manners training
Puppy raisers are guided by:
Leader Dog Puppy
In for Training (IFT) Standards
Monthly meetings with the contin
support and guidance from
local area volunteer puppy counsel
Morristown, New Jersey
The Seeing Eye, Inc. is the oldest guide dog
school in the world.
Twelve times a year, as many as 24 students
at a time visit the Morristown, N.J. campus
to discover the exhilarating experience of
traveling with a Seeing Eye dog.
Since 1929, The Seeing Eye has partnered
with people who are blind who seek to
enhance their independence, dignity, and
self-confidence through the use of Seeing
Our students – people who
are blind or visually
impaired – come from all
over the United States and
Canada to spend up to a
month training with a new
Seeing Eye® dog.
They range in age from 16 to
senior citizens, their home
environments may be rural
or urban, and they may be
homemakers, volunteers, or
Morris Frank and
In 1927, a young man named Morris
Frank read an article about dogs being
trained as guides for blinded veterans
of World War I.
Frustrated by his own lack of mobility
as a blind person, he was inspired to
write its author for help. Dorothy
Harrison Eustis was an American
training German shepherd dogs in
Switzerland, and when she received
Morris Frank’s letter, she agreed to
He promised he would return to the
United States and spread the word
about these wonderful dogs.
In 1928, having completed instruction
in Switzerland, he arrived in New York
City, proving the ability of his dog
Buddy before throngs of news reporters.
His one-word telegram to Mrs. Eustis
told the entire story … “Success.”
The Seeing Eye was born, with the
Puppy Raising and 4-H Program
In 1942 the school partnered with 4-H to
organize and maintain puppy-raising clubs.
Although many of our clubs still have a
strong 4-H connection, there are also many
clubs independent of 4-H.
Clubs meet regularly to plan outings,
provide socialization and share tips on
teaching good puppy behavior.
When Seeing Eye puppies reach
the age of 7 or 8 weeks, they are
delivered to the homes of
volunteer “foster families” who
nurture and care for their
charges until they are about 16
to 18 months old.
Families in New Jersey, eastern
Pennsylvania, Delaware, and
parts of Maryland and New
York, give the dogs abundant
affection, teach them basic
obedience, and expose them to a
variety of social situations they
will later encounter as working
Many of these volunteer families
have children, while a number of
retired adults also volunteer
their time for our puppies.
Charlie and Robbie Kaman's
intiuitive knowledge of how
German Shepherd dogs could help
people who are legally blind live
more normal lives was the genesis
of the Fidelco Guide Dog
Beginning in 1960, the work done
by this innovative couple and
ever-growing group of dedicated
and tireless staff, volunteers and
supporters has reached out and
touched thousands of clients' and
family members' lives.
Today, Fidelco is an
in the guide dog industry. And the
legacy of dedication and quality
given to the organization by the
Kamans will guide Fidelco for
Each Fidelco Guide Dog takes two
years, 15,000 hands-on hours and
$45,000 to produce. They are given
to clients at no cost. Fidelco
provides 24/7 client support for the
entire working life of its guide dogs
– typically 10 years. Fidelco relies
solely on the generosity and
financial support of individuals,
foundations, corporations and civic
organizations to help Share the
Fidelco has trained and placed over
1,350 German Shepherd Guide
Dogs throughout North America –
in 41 states and five Canadian
provinces. Fidelco pioneered In-
Community Placement in the
United States — a process that
allows all guide dog users to be
trained in the communities where
they live and work.
Fidelco also has placed hundreds of
its German Shepherd Dogs with
law enforcement agencies, first
responders, search and rescue, and
missing child recovery
A breed within a
The Fidelco German Shepherd
was created from Bavarian
stock. It is an outstanding and
exclusive product of selective
breeding from strong working
lines and has evolved to be
truly a breed within a breed.
Our dogs possess the
characteristics of the ideal
working guide; intelligence,
temperament, stamina and
They are responsible for our
clients’ safety at all times. This
formidable task requires us to
have an uncompromising focus
on the quality of the breed,
which is a hallmark of the
In terms of pure selflessness, it is our volunteer puppy raisers that rise
to the top. They take our pups at about eight weeks of age, love and care
for them, participate in weekly socialization and training activities at the
Fidelco training center and then, when the pups are approximately 14 to
16 months old, return them to us for formal guide dog training.
Thousands of families and individuals have participated in the Fidelco
volunteer puppy raising program over the years. They expose the pup to
a wide variety of experiences in the home, on the street and in the world
at large; the very things that the dogs will be required to deal with as a
guide for someone with a visual disability.
The payback is immeasurable. The freedom and independence that the
pup brings to its human partner is based on the love and care provided
by the Fidelco puppy raisers.
Established in 1982, Southeastern
Guide Dogs currently has more
than +400 active guide dog teams
across the country and continues
to create more than 70 new guide
dog teams annually
Located on 35 manicured acres in
Palmetto, Florida, Southeastern
Guide Dogs is accredited by the
International Guide Dog
Federation in Reading, England
and is a member of the Council of
U.S. Dog Guide Schools.
Southeastern Guide Dogs is one of
only 10 fully certified guide dogs
school in the country and the only
one located in the southeastern
Southeastern Guide Dogs' mission
is to create and nurture a
partnership between a visually
Paws for Independence™ - pairs
individuals with visual impairments with
professionally trained guide dogs during a
26-day residential training class based at
our campus in Palmetto, Florida. Training
begins on the mile-and-a-half-"Freedom
Walk", a virtual outdoor classroom that
presents the guide dog teams with a
variety of navigational challenges (e. g. a
railroad crossing, bridges, etc). As students
progress, the training expands to outside
locations, including shopping centers and
urban areas with high pedestrian and
Paws for Patriots™- provides guide dogs to
veterans with visual impairments; service
dogs to veterans with Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder; and facility therapy dogs
to military hospitals such as the Walter
Reed National Military Medical Center,
Quantico, Andrews Air Force Base, and
Gifted Canines™- provides law
enforcement agencies, hospitals, assisted-
living facilities, nursing homes and
individuals with special needs with dogs
who excel in narcotic or arson detection,
search and rescue, therapy and other
specialized careers. Our school places dogs
in the Gifted Canines™ program only if
they do not meet the specific criteria
Our school operates its own breeding colony, with approximately 50
Three Breeds: Labradors, golden retrievers and goldadors
(Labrador/golden retriever mix)
Number of puppies currently being raised by volunteers: approximately
Number of puppies born on campus each year: approximately 250
Number of dogs currently in training: approximately 80
Number of miles a Southeastern Guide Dog trainer walks in a year –
Most common names sponsors choose for puppies – Maggie, Buddy,
Number of dogs currently deployed: more than 1,000, including over 410
active guide dogs, more than 100 Gifted Canines, approximately 250
puppies in puppy raiser homes, and more than 200 dogs and puppies in
the school’s kennels
Our Puppy Raisers: Where the Transformation Begins
Training an exceptional guide dog
begins before a puppy is even born.
Our intentional breeding program
means our puppies come from
parents who are known for their
intelligence, loving personality, and
trainability. Newborn puppies are
tickled and stretched as part of our
early socialization program.
Before they’re weaned, young
puppies are exposed to sights,
sounds, textures, and plenty of
puppy-hugging volunteers. House
training starts early to make the
next step in their training that
much more enjoyable for everyone.
Puppy raisers are volunteer
families who agree to
welcome a future guide dog
into their home.
These homes are where our
young puppies’ training and
socialization takes an
important turn; it is here
that they become comfortable
with home life, learn basic
obedience, and begin to
experience the world.
Puppy raisers take our
work, out to eat, on trips, and
even grocery shopping. This
real-world training imitates
the experiences that our dogs
need to successfully guide a
Freedom Guide Dogs
Cassville, New York
Founded in 1992, Accredited by the International
Guide Dog Federation, over 160 clients throughout the
East Coast of the US. Freedom employs 10 people and
places 25-30 guide dogs each year.
Freedom's Hometown Training program allows a
certified guide dog instructor to bring a trained guide
dog right to the blind person's home where they train
for 2 weeks in a familiar, home setting. This is at no
cost to the client.
Located in upstate NY, Freedom was founded in 1992
by husband and wife team Eric and Sharon Loori with
the purpose of providing a new way of guide dog
training and placement to the blind and visually
Labrador Retriever: The Labrador is Freedom’s tried
and true breed. They adapt well to various situations
and are particularly well suited for people with
Standard Poodle: The Standard Poodle is very
trainable and a very good thinker. Poodles also have
the advantage of not shedding, creating a
hypoallergenic alternative to other working breeds.
The Standard Poodle is outgoing, but can also be very
Golden Retrievers: Goldens are friendly, energetic,
American White Shepherds: The AWS
possesses a solid structure and all
round good health. They are intelligent
and enthusiastic eaters who also
demonstrate a strong work ethic while
being responsive and adaptable to a
Smooth-Coated Collie: This
herding breed is intelligent,
easy going, even tempered and
fairs well with other animals
Programs overview: Puppy Raising
Puppy Raiser Responsibilities:
Raise the puppy to be well-behaved. This means no jumping and no
The puppy needs to be leash trained. You walk the dog, the dog
does not walk you. The puppy should also be able to go to the
bathroom on leash (not while on a walk).
Housebreak the puppy. The crate training method is preferred.
Socializing the puppy is key. Expose the dog to as much as possible.
Take to stores, church, school, around large groups of people, small
children and other animals.
It is required to attend at least one obedience class with your
puppy, whether at Freedom Guide Dogs or at another facility.
A Puppy Raiser is a volunteer who agrees to
raise a puppy in their home for Freedom Guide
Dogs so that it can one day become a guide dog.
At about eight weeks of age the puppy goes to
live with the Puppy Raiser for one year to a year
and a half. During that time the Puppy Raiser
plays a key role in the socialization and
development of the puppy which greatly
increases its chances of graduating from the
guide dog program.
International Outreach with Japanese Guide Dog Association
In 2004, Mr. And Mrs. Loori met Satoru Tawada (Sam) of the Japanese Guide Dog Association at the
International Guide Dog Users Conference in 2004. They discovered many shared beliefs and missions. As
a result of this initial meeting, they determined to begin a series of joint projects that would benefit the
mission of both organizations.
The first need of the Japanese Guide Dog Association was for quality dogs to train and place. Freedom
Guide Dogs initially purchased two German Shepherd dog puppies and had them raised and socialized by
Freedom Puppy Raiser families while they were properly prepared for import into Japan. These dogs were
then trained by Japanese Guide Dog Association trainers and placed with Japanese clients with great
Building on this success, the Japanese Guide Dog Association felt that the acquisition of breeding animals
to extend their breeding programs should be the next logical step. To accomplish this, Freedom Guide
Dogs puppy raiser families raised two Labrador Retrievers (Tamika and Tia) from their successful
breeding program, carefully selected for future breeding potential. The first such dogs were received in
Japan in 2012 and Tamika had her first litter of nine puppies, which should enter training in early 2014.
Tia whelped her first litter of eleven puppies in May 2013.
Freedom has raised and provided two German Shepherd dogs to the Japanese Guide Dog Association.
Both dogs were trained as guide dogs. Kimika (Kimi), a German Shepherd female was sent to Japan in the
summer of 2013 for their breeding program. Kimi’s brother, Knight, will be sent in December 2013 for
their breeding program as well. Sky, an American White Shepherd was raised by puppy raisers in NY and
trained by Eric Loori for guide work. She was sent to Japan in 2013 and is currently being readied for
guide placement by her Japanese trainer, Kimiko.
In April 2013, Yukiko and Kimiko, trainers for the Japanese Guide Dog Association visited the Freedom
Guide Dog facility in upstate NY. They came to observe training techniques as well as to evaluate pups for
possible future breeding stock. The chose two yellow Labrador Retriever pups that they named Jingles
and Judy. Both pups are being raised by puppy raisers in NY and will be sent to the JGDA in 2014 for
their breeding program. Also joining the JGDA breeding program is black Labrador Retriever, Daylee,
who will be sent in December 0f 2013.
In January of 2013, Eric Loori with guide-dog-in training, Sky, met with Ambassador Kenichiro Sasae,
Congressman Richard Hanna of NY and Freedom Guide Dogs Board member, Paula Scott. The meeting
was an excellent opportunity to tell Ambassador Sasae about the ongoing collaboration between Freedom
Guide Dogs and the Japanese Guide Dog Association.
Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind,
Smithtown, New York
A group of civic leaders wanted to establish a guide dog school, near the New York
metropolitan area, that did not charge for its services. They founded the Guide Dog
Foundation in 1946 as "Guiding Eyes Inc." They located William Holzmann, a dog
trainer, and hired him to develop a method of training. That year they graduated
their first two graduates, Vito Vero and Arthur Torgersen. The original office was
located in Forest Hills, Queens. The space was limited and resources were scarce.
In the late 1940s, the present Smithtown, N.Y., property was purchased. In 1949 the
name was changed to Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind, Inc. There was a kennel,
but there were no residential facilities for the students. The students were put up in
rooming houses in the local area. Mr. Holzmann trained the dogs in groups of six to
eight (which we call strings), and at that time it was estimated to cost between
$3,000-$4,000 to train a string of dogs.
In the 1960s, under the direction of two English trainers, the Foundation combined a
blend of English and American techniques which we continue to use today. Also, at
that time they began the breeding program with Labrador Retrievers and Golden
Retrievers. In fact, many of the guide dogs that work today are descendants of those
Today, the Guide Dog Foundation maintains its training campus in Smithtown on the
original property, which is about 40 miles east of New York City. It is easily accessible
to all modes of transportation. The campus consists of administrative offices,
A 12-day in-residence training program at
our Smithtown, NY campus teaches our
students the skills and commands needed to
foster a successful working team with a
guide dog. During the training program,
blind students first learn about the
commands the dog knows. Access laws,
public awareness and other issues also are
covered during the 25-day program. They
will have begun to master all of the
techniques they need to be successful—from
finding the checkout counter at a store, to
maneuvering through a crowded train
station, to passing through a revolving door.
The team can travel confidently and
independently on suburban routes or city
streets, during the day or at night, alone or
in rush hour.
As some of our most passionate volunteers,
puppy raiser families provide the loving
homes that care for our Foundation puppies
until the dogs are old enough to enter our
training programs. Puppy raisers take home
a 7-week-old puppy and care for it until it is
between 14 and 18 months old. They
housebreak the puppy, socialize it in
different environments, teach it good house
The Guide Dog Foundation's eight-acre
campus is located on East Jericho
Turnpike/Middle Country Road in
Smithtown, New York. (Smithtown is
about 45 miles east of Manhattan.) The
Foundation just completed a major campus
expansion and renovation project – the
largest in its 55-plus year history.
Our breeding colony has over 100 dogs, the
majority of which are Labrador Retrievers.
The other breeds we use include:
Smooth Coat Collies
These breeds tend to be smart, easy to
train, more suitable for assistance dog
work and, in some cases, are
The Puppy Playground was donated by the
Melville Rotary Club and the Michaels
family in memory of Herbert Lloyd
Michaels. Puppies need to be kept
separate from older dogs until they have
had all of their vaccinations. Guide dog
puppies need to have many different
experiences, so they are not frightened by
new things as adults. This playground
The Puppy Nursery is a very popular place
at the Foundation, especially when a dog
is giving birth to her pups. The nursery
and whelping areas are sanitized, and so
access is restricted to certain members of
the staff. Viewing windows allow staff and
guests can check in on the future guide
dogs and see how they are doing. We breed
our puppies to maximize the traits
important for guide dogs.
about 100 dogs.
It houses the
dogs that are in
for training as
well as the
puppies that are
in for boarding.
in every day of
the week to
Canine enrichment &
We all need an outlet to let off some
steam....FREE RUN! These dogs were out on
one of the campus' free runs getting a little
exercise. To say they were fast is an
understatement. Pictured running is a
Yellow Lab, a Yellow Lab Golden mix and a
Black Lab Golden Mix.
A GDF volunteer shared the following with us:
My experiences with the Guide Dog Foundation is
very fruitful & pleasurable. I look forward to
Tuesday @ The Training Center bathing all the
dogs I can. There is a lot of wonderful people that I
get in contact with. I feel very at home there & the
staff is just wonderful including the trainers who I
see often. I love all the dogs & feel a connection
with a lot of them.
I also love taking out the students on weekends,
that gives me a euphoric feeling that I am helping
someone who is comfortable with me & the
students are so appreciative of what I am doing for
shows Kongs in
Guiding Eyes for the Blind
Yorktown Heights, New York
Founded in 1954, Guiding Eyes breeds, raises, and
trains guide dogs and trains students to work with
guide dogs that have been carefully selected to match
their individual needs. Our training programs and life-
long follow-up support are completely free of charge
and are made possible through the generous support of
individuals, corporations, foundations and
Journey of a Guiding Eyes Dog
We strive to continually improve the genetic
makeup of our dogs, by selecting the very best
of all the dogs placed in our puppy raising
program to join our breeding colony. Only the
top 8 percent of our dogs will be candidates for
the breeding colony.
The traits sought by Guiding Eyes in a
guide dog include the following:
medium size (60 to 75 lb)
easy coat care
calm, easy-to-handle by persons with minimal
dog handling skills
confident in all environments
able to cope with the pressure of making
not distracted around other dogs
raised to have good social manners
The future genetic quality of our dogs is
determined by the critically important choice of
dogs kept as replacement breeders.
These decisions have a profound effect on
whether the temperament and health traits of
our dogs continue to improve.
One of Guiding Eyes’ most critical tasks is selecting the next generation of breeding dogs.
This is why almost all of the puppies in the puppy raising program remain reproductively
intact until after they return for their IFT. A number of considerations come into play
when evaluating a dog as a breeder, including not only that specific dog’s health history
and temperament, but also the health and temperament of all its littermates.
Any dog selected as a breeder will meet minimum standards for each of the traits
considered valuable in a guide dog, and will also contribute improvement in one or more
traits so that the next generation is better than its predecessors.
Once candidate breeders are identified, they remain at the Canine Development Center in
Patterson, New York where they undergo extensive testing and evaluation. The
Veterinary Department performs a comprehensive physical examination, including
radiographs and other tests, on each dog. The Breeding Kennel staff plays a key role in
gathering additional information on the temperament and trainability of potential
breeders during their minimum two week stay. The dogs also undergo multiple brood/stud
walks in the village of Brewster.
Along with the assessment of each potential breeder, the dog’s siblings in the training
program are also monitored. The presence of health or behavioral issues in a sibling can be
an indication that the potential breeder may carry genetic susceptibilities that could
produce undesirable traits in future offspring.
Dogs that do not meet the high criteria for breeding, but are suitable for guide dog work,
are returned to training. The candidate breeders remaining in the evaluation process leave
the kennel and are placed temporarily with individuals or families in a home environment
(either sitters or potential fosters). When a dog officially achieves Breeder status, the dog
PROCESS FOR BREED EVALUATION
Only one-third of the dogs selected for breeding evaluation actually become Guiding Eyes breeders. There
are multiple steps in the process, which takes approximately 4 months to complete.
Identifying candidates Our database identifies possible breeding dog candidates, based on whether their
data match specific health and temperament criteria.
Verifying candidates to pre-screen DVDs from the quarterly puppy program W&T assessments are
reviewed in advance of the dogs arriving for evaluation.
Breed evaluation initial testing Dogs demonstrating consistency for the desired traits are scheduled for
screening at the Canine Development Center (CDC), and undergo the same initial testing as the dogs
destined for training. Those with the highest criteria for breeding are retained at the CDC for further
observation, testing, and training. Some dogs not selected for pre-screening may still be evaluated for
breeding on the day of the IFT test.
Breed evaluation completion Littermates of dogs in breeding evaluation are observed through their 2nd
month of training, to verify that the positive traits observed in the potential breeder are consistently
present throughout the litter. This indicates that the breeder will produce the desired traits more
consistently in its offspring. Once the evaluation of littermates is completed, a final decision is made about
retaining a breed evaluation dog as a member of the breeding colony. Breed evaluation dogs that are not
selected for breeding are moved to training.
PLACEMENT OF BREED DOGS
During the breed evaluation period, when the dog is not needed in the CDC kennel, it will be placed with a
foster sitter local to the CDC. The foster sitter may or may not receive permanent placement with a breed
dog. Once the decision is made to make the dog part of the breeding colony, the dog will be placed with a
foster family meeting a number of eligibility requirements.
KEEPING IN TOUCH
During breed evaluation: Your Region Manager will keep you updated approximately once a month while
your dog is being evaluated for breeding. If you have any questions you should contact your Region
During active breeding years: When your dog is placed with a foster family, your Region Manager will
arrange an exchange of contact information (name, address, telephone number, and e- mail address if any)
between you and the foster family. Before placement, the foster families agree to maintain contact with
their dog’s raiser, so that raisers are welcome to inquire about their dog and share information on the dog’s
progress over time. The Foster Agreement gives more details of the foster placement requirements. If you
have any questions or concerns regarding foster placement, contact your Region Coordinator. A
complimentary 8 x 10 portrait of your dog wearing a harness (without the handle) − a special designation of
breeding status− will be sent to you (as well as to any official vet or food sponsors for your dog). You can
order extra copies of the portrait through your Region Coordinator. For lowest cost, order the extra photos
Guide Dog Genetics
Guiding Eyes collects extensive genetic information and data on all of its dogs. Data is entered
into a powerful genetics tracking database, called Reldog (relational dog database). This amazing
program is the result of 15 years effort by Guiding Eyes staff and volunteer programmer Kevin
Keymer from Minnesota. The program is now being modified by Guiding Eyes and another
volunteer programmer, Steve Owen, to be available at no cost to organizations training service
and guide dogs throughout the world.
The database contains health and temperament measurements on every Guiding Eyes dog, and
can be sorted by litter as well as sire and/or dam. These summaries and tabulations are
recalculated daily by Reldog for all dogs in the database in a matter of minutes.
Reldog also incorporates a very powerful genetics selection tool called Estimated Breeding Values
(EBVs), based on software programs developed by the USDA for animal breeders. We are grateful
to Dr. Eldin Leighton, Genetics Director at The Seeing Eye, and Dr. Tom Famula at University of
California, Davis Campus, for helping us make use of EBVs in Reldog and at Guiding Eyes.
EBVs for a particular temperament or health trait are calculated for each individual dog, based
on its own data and that of every dog related to it. Annual health surveys on a majority of all
living Guiding Eyes dogs help make our health data accurate. We use the EBVs to provide a
relative ranking of the likelihood of producing a particular temperament or health trait for each
We currently have EBVs for important health traits found in Labrador Retrievers, including skin
allergies, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, and mast cell cancer. We hope to have an EBV
for soft trachea in the near future.
Temperament EBVs have been a bit more elusive and are still a subject of research and
development for Guiding Eyes. Promising research projects are underway in collaboration with
four other guide and service dog organizations in the US, and Dr. James Serpell at the University
Each month, we review temperament and health summary data on all intact (not neutered)
puppies in the puppy-raising program. Those puppies ranking the most favorable for EBVs and
individual health and temperament histories are put on “Breed Watch”. Many dogs can be on
Breed Watch, but only a few will eventually join the Guiding Eyes breeding pool.
As the dogs mature, and we collect more data, an increasingly accurate picture emerges of the
In 1993, Guiding Eyes became the first guide dog school in North America to establish
a state-of-the-art reproduction program with cryogenics and transcervical
insemination. Through a grant from the Minnesota Guide Dog Breeding Center,
Guiding Eyes was able to purchase equipment and obtain training from Dr. Marion
Wilson in New Zealand, who developed transcervical insemination procedure for the
In transcervical insemination, the semen is deposited directly into the uterus using an
endoscopic camera and fiberoptic equipment. This procedure is accomplished in
minutes and, like a natural mating, is done without the need for surgery or anesthesia.
Cryogenics is the term for freezing and storing semen so that it can be used later for
fertilization. The semen is collected while the studs are young and at their breeding
peak. Each stud has 50 to 300 frozen “straws” of semen kept in storage tanks filled
with liquid nitrogen, maintaining them at -200 degrees Celsius (-320 degrees
Fahrenheit). This stockpile of frozen semen safeguards the genetic lines of Guiding
Eyes’ breeding colony, and allows us to collaborate with other guide dog schools.
The Guiding Eyes reproduction lab has trained − free of charge − other guide dog
schools from around the world, and has made semen from quality dogs easily accessible
so that others can improve their breeding colonies. Frozen semen can be shipped across
the country, as well as around the world. Guiding Eyes has shipped semen as far away
The breeding kennel at the CDC manages the reproduction processes for the Guiding
Eyes Breeding Colony, resulting in the conception of over 500 world- class guide dog
puppies each year. Breeders, dogs undergoing evaluation as possible breeders, and
Canine Development Center (CDC)
The Canine Development Center (CDC) is where potential Guiding Eyes for the Blind (Guiding
Eyes) guide dogs get their start − literally! This is an exciting place where the first steps are
taken toward producing a successful guide dog team: breeding, birthing, socializing, screening,
and placing high-potential puppies in loving, nurturing puppy-raising homes.
Guiding Eyes has been breeding their own dogs since the mid-1960s, to ensure a reliable resource
of quality dogs to train as guide dogs. Prior to that time, extensive time and effort was invested
in searching shelters and other sources for adult dogs and puppies; unfortunately, the majority of
these dogs eventually failed to meet the rigorous standards required of guide dogs. Our Canine
Development Center is at the leading edge of advances in canine genetics, breeding technology,
and behavioral development. Over many generations of selective breeding, Guiding Eyes has
maximized the qualities required for a working guide dog and minimized health problems that
could disrupt or shorten a guide dog’s working years.
Approximately half of the 500 puppies bred each year will become working guide dogs. However,
every special puppy goes on to find his or her place in the world − as a guide dog, another type of
service dog such as a detection dog, or a loving pet in a carefully-screened home.
The Puppy Raising Program, in existence almost as long as Guiding Eyes itself, is one of the most
well-developed programs of its kind. Puppy raisers receive comprehensive training before being
matched with a puppy that best suits their needs and abilities. Raisers are supported with
regular classes that emphasize relationship-based puppy rearing techniques, allowing them to
bring their pup to its fullest potential.
To fulfill our mission the CDC focuses on breeding and raising the best quality guide dog
candidates to supply our training program. In addition, guide and service dog schools throughout
the world benefit from Guiding Eyes’ outreach efforts that provide numerous puppies, adult dogs,
Puppy Raising and In For Training
Our network of puppy raisers includes
a broad spectrum of caring individuals
from various walks of life.
They include couples, families with
children, young adults and senior
citizens. Some already have pets of
Raisers live in urban, suburban, and
rural areas – and in apartments, town-
homes, and single family homes.
Sixty percent of our raisers are repeat
raisers – meaning they have raised
more than one Guiding Eyes puppy.
We are extremely proud that so many
raisers enjoy our program enough to
renew their commitment to raise
another puppy. A few have raised as
many as 35 puppies!
There are 5 possible outcomes from the IFT test:
Training: Your dog passed the IFT screening test and
will stay at the Training School. Medical screening and
assignment to an instructor will occur over the next few
Breeder evaluation: Exceptional qualities were
identified and your dog will stay at the CDC Breeding
kennel for medical screening and further temperament
Further evaluation: Additional temperament
evaluations will be done at the CDC or Training School
to determine the best career path for your dog. Your
Region Manager will be in touch as soon as more
information is available. Sometimes dogs with special
training needs are placed with another guide dog/service
dog school. Some dogs are retained in the Guiding Eyes
training program as dogs for clients with Special Needs.
Release/alternate career: Your dog has temperament
and/or health issues that will prevent your dog from
becoming a guide dog. Your dog may be suited for an
alternative career such as detection work or as a
cherished family pet (see Public Adoption.)
Puppy program: Occasionally there are too many dogs
available for training, and raisers are asked if they can
keep their dog for an additional month or so until the
next group of instructors is available. This option allows
the dog to stay in a familiar environment and avoids the
stresses of lengthy, non-productive kennel time.
Alternately, some dogs are deemed to be potentially
Kennel enrichment is the practice of providing animals under managed care with environmental
stimuli. This practice ensures a positive, enjoyable kennel experience for the dogs. Any novel stimulus
which evokes an animal’s interest can be considered enriching:
Scents, visual movement, natural and artificial objects
Novel food and different methods of preparing food (such as puzzles and food toys)
Different textures and surfaces
Guiding Eyes has an extensive Kennel Enrichment Program. Our nurturing staff and volunteers
provide a healthy combination of exercise and rest to stimulate our dogs’ minds. Our program is
designed to provide an inviting kennel environment – enhancing the dogs’ lives and preventing stress
during this important training period.
Kennel volunteers will spend the majority of their time cleaning the kennels and equipment and
assisting the staff in other duties. Volunteers are offered the opportunity to specialize in one particular
enrichment area and will receive additional training to perform the required tasks for that area.
Staff or volunteers spend quality alone time with a dog in his or her run. Sitting in a low beach chair,
they can groom, use toys or simply cuddle with the dog. This creates a more relaxing atmosphere where
the dog is not being asked to do anything except be a dog. This exercise also helps the dog view his/her
run as a positive environment.
We use massage therapy to enhance the health and well-being of our very special dogs. Staff and
volunteers spend 15 minutes massaging a dog in our specially designed massage room equipped with
ambient lighting, aroma therapy, soothing music and plush dog beds. Massage helps the dogs relax and
become more comfortable being touched.
Staff or volunteers take retired or released dogs on leisurely walks along the campus nature path.
These walks provide the dogs with time away from the kennel to relax and unwind outdoors. Dog
walking volunteers must have experience handling and walking large dogs.
Staff or volunteers brush, bathe and dry select dogs in our washing facility. Dog bathers must be able to
sit, stand and bend for at least 30 minutes at a time.
Volunteers can participate in playtime once they have volunteered at our campus in an alternate
position and have been approved by the staff. Playtime volunteers take individual dogs into one of our
outdoor community runs. Here the dogs have various toys to play with, including pools and ice toys in
the summer months. Volunteers also have the option to use our turf Planet Dog run where the dogs can
stretch their legs, play a game of fetch or enjoy one on one interaction in an outdoor environment.
All potential volunteers must complete a volunteer application and undergo a screening, training and
Guide Dog Training
After leaving their puppy raisers, dogs are assigned to a guide dog instructor, who will
develop a relationship with the dog through play, obedience, and general time together.
The instructor will work with each dog for at least 5 months. Training is a continuous
process that includes teaching the dog the concepts of guiding in small steps, and
building upon previous lessons with hundreds of repetitions in a great variety of
situations. Eventually, the dog understands and is comfortable with all aspects of guide
work. A guide dog is ready for placement with a blind partner when the dog responds
reliably and safely to all work situations it will encounter while guiding.
Although training is a continuous process, it can logically be thought of in four phases,
with each dog working at its own pace. The first phase consists of the guide dog
learning the basics of forward, halt, and hup-up (work in a straight line while avoiding
obstacles and resuming the original direction). The training in Phase I occurs at the
Training School and surrounding neighborhoods.
In Phase II, the trainers reinforce the lessons of Phase I in Peekskill, NY − a moderate-
size town with more distractions and unusual underfootings. Trainers also address any
residual behavioral problems (such as animal distraction or scavenging for food).
In Phase III, the dogs are asked to perform learned tasks on their own initiative,
without assistance of the trainer. Praise and hundreds of repetition in different
situations is required before the dog really understands what is expected and can
respond reliably to the cues provided.
In Phase IV, the dogs fine-tune their skills and apply their knowledge to new situations
in larger cities and more distracting environments. In this final phase, the dogs learn
Training Programs and Client matching
Guiding Eyes has four training
programs designed to meet the varied
needs of guide dog users:
Residential 26-Day Training Program
Special Needs Program
ACTION (Accelerated Client Training
Home Training Program
Matches take into account many criteria,
the student’s typical walking speed
the amount of pull that the dog exerts on the harness
the dog’s comfort level and confidence in the
environment in which it will need to work
the working personalities of both the student and dog,
including the amount and type of praise and support
the student can provide, the patience of the student
and the dog, and the level of firmness and consistency
needed by the dog to maintain its work pattern
the physical match between the student’s height and
the dog’s size
Guiding Eyes gathers as much information about the
student as possible during the application process and
in the first few days in training. This information
assists instructors and class supervisors in making
tentative matches between the students and the guide
Guide Dogs for the Blind
San Rafael, California
In the beginning...
It all began with a dream—the dream of
creating the first guide dog training school
on the West Coast. It was a dream shared
by Lois Merrihew and Don Donaldson,
who volunteered their efforts along with
many others. They recognized the need to
help wounded servicemen who would
return from World War II without their
sight. They believed in the potential of
dogs to serve as guides for the blind.
Our school was incorporated in May of
1942 and began instruction of students in
a rented home in Los Gatos, California,
south of San Jose. A German Shepherd
named Blondie was one of the first dogs
trained. Blondie had been rescued from a
Pasadena dog pound. She was later paired
with Sgt. Leonard Foulk, the first
serviceman to graduate from the new
In 1947, the school moved to our present
11-acre location in San Rafael, California,
20 miles north of San Francisco. In
October of 1995, we held the first
graduation at our new campus in Boring,
Oregon, 25 miles east of Portland. We
have graduated more than 10,000 teams
since our beginnings in 1942.
Both campuses house students in
exceptional dormitory facilities which
include dining rooms, exercise rooms,
libraries, computer rooms and social
areas. Both are located near major
metropolitan centers, providing graduated
training from quiet rural areas to
congested city streets and public transit.
The dogs and puppies are cared for in
meticulous kennels and state-of-the-art
veterinary clinics. Labrador Retrievers,
Golden Retrievers, and Labrador
Retriever/Golden Retriever crosses are the
breeds used. Professional staff and
veterinarians nurture, groom, train and
prepare the dogs for their futures as
Historical Time line
November 5, 1927: Dorothy Harrison Eustis introduced America to the concept of using dogs as guides for
the blind with an article in The Saturday Evening Post.
October 21, 1941: Lois Merrihew and Don Donaldson collaborate with D.M. Linnard, the owner of San
Francisco's Fairmont Hotel, and the hotel's publicity director, A.S. Oko, to publicize the need for the school
with an article in the San Francisco Chronicle. Blondie, a German Shepherd rescued from the Pasadena
Humane Society, is pictured in the article. She would later become the guide of Sgt. Leonard Foulk, the
first serviceman to graduate from the school.
December, 1941: Lois Merrihew and Don Donaldson visited Letterman Army Medical Center in San
Francisco's Presidio to offer their services to the American Women's Voluntary Services (AWVS). The
AWVS was instrumental in the founding of Guide Dogs for the Blind to aid blinded veterans.
May 27, 1942: Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) was incorporated and the first board of directors appointed.
AWVS National Representative Mrs. Ryer Nixon became the first board president, and AWVS San
Francisco Chairperson Mrs. Nion Tucker joined her as a member. Don Donaldson was named director and
Lois Merrihew, his assistant. The school began in a rented Victorian farm house called "Tilted Acres" in
Los Gatos, California, with four donated German Shepherds. Nine students received training at this
June 1, 1942: Graduation for Class 1.
1944: GDB moved to a home in Los Gatos.
1945: GDB collaborated with the California 4-H program to establish the GDB Puppy Raising Program.
1947: The California State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind was established by the State Legislature to
enforce high standards of guide dog training through the licensing of all instructors in the state. Guide Dog
Instructor Stewart Wiest, who had trained dogs through the Army K-9 Corps, received license #1. Lois
Merrihew received license #2. Lois was also the second director of the school, after Don Donaldson retired.
1947: Board Chair Eloise Heller and volunteer Clarence Pfaffenberger established standards for Guide Dog
breeds. Pfaffenberger volunteered for 21 years and is credited with formalizing the puppy testing, puppy
raising and breeding programs.
1948: 11-acre campus in San Rafael, California is completed with capacity for eight students.
1949: The 100th team graduated. William F. Johns, former assistant director of the Army K-9 Corps,
directed the school for the next 20 years. He also initiated the apprentice program for instructors. His own
German Shepherd, Frank of Ledge Acres, became a breeding stock dog, and sired 162 puppies; 73 were
1952: MoZelle Zimmer became chief puppy tester and continued her volunteer efforts for more than 30
1958: Benny Larsen directed the school for 16 years. A former POW in WWII while in the Danish Marines,
and later, head of Denmark's canine patrol services, he is credited for staff development, establishing in-
home applicant visits and follow-up support services.
1962: Norah Hamilton Straus directed the Board for 15 years. She traveled throughout the country with
instructors and dogs, and with internationally known jazz pianist George Shearing and his Guide Dog Lee,
giving presentations and creating local fundraising committees.
1967: GDB celebrated its 25th Anniversary. The campus expanded to accommodate 16 students.
1981: With the addition of a second wing to the dormitory, GDB is the first in the nation to offer a
dedicated retrain program.
1983: US Council of Guide Dog Schools membership.
1992: The 50th Anniversary is celebrated with a visit to the White House and President George Bush.
1992: An educational program for orientation and mobility specialists is premiered.
1995: The second campus in Boring, Oregon is unveiled. The first Oregon class graduated in October.
1995: International Guide Dog Federation membership (San Rafael, CA campus).
1997: Hawaii is opened for access to people using guide dogs through collaborative efforts including GDB.
1998: GDB hosted the first International Guide Dog Federation meeting to take place in North America
2000: International Guide Dog Federation membership (Boring, OR campus).
2001: Research and Development Director Michelle Pouliot unveiled the BEST program (Balanced
Educational System of Training Guide Dogs). Pouliot is later credited with the GDB Wheelchair Program,
as well as other innovations in training and harness design.
September 11, 2001: Graduate Michael Hingson's guide Roselle led him from his office on the 78th floor of
the World Trade Center to safety.
2002: GDB graduated the 10,000th team.
2002: 60th Anniversary celebrated with a float in the Tournament of Roses Parade® in Pasadena.
2002: Samsung Guide Dogs in South Korea becomes GDB's sister-school and collaborates in international
2004: The GDB Wheelchair Program offered dogs specially trained to assist GDB Alumni using motorized
wheelchairs for mobility.
2004: GDB is the first in the nation to launch the K9 Buddy Program, introducing the Guide Dog Lifestyle
to blind youth and their families.
2005: Creation of GDB Alumni Association, Nov. 14, 2005.
2005: White House visit with President George W. Bush to honor blinded veterans.
2006: First regional chapters of Guide Dogs' Alumni Association established.
Sgt. Leonard Foulk, first serviceman to graduate, with Blondie.
The groundbreaking at the San Rafael campus.
Sgt. Leonard Foulk, first serviceman to graduate, with Blondie.
The groundbreaking at the San Rafael campus.
California Campus Oregon Campus
Guide Dog Breeding
Our specialized breeding program was
started in the late 1940s in an effort to
ensure consistent production of dogs with
desirable traits. Our dogs also offer enough
variation within its respective breed to fill
the myriad needs of our students,
Being of a size and weight that are
appropriate for working beside a person
and riding public transportation
The ability to live in a variety of climates,
thanks to easily-cared-for double coats
Labrador Retrievers have proven to have the most success worldwide as
guides; at GDB, Labradors constitute the largest percentage of our
breeding colony. We also have a smaller percentage of Golden Retrievers
and we breed Lab/Golden crosses for use in our training program. The vast
majority of our dogs are bred from our own specially selected stock, but a
percentage are donated from other schools, through international
programs, and other means.
Our puppy raising program is a life-changing and rewarding experience for our
raisers, their families, and ultimately our graduates. No prior experience is
necessary to become a puppy raiser. And we're here to help every step of the
Our Puppy Raising program is in the following states: Arizona, California,
Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington.
What to expect:
You'll receive your puppy at approximately eight weeks old, and he/she will
return for formal training between 13 and 15 months old. Puppy raisers are
responsible for teaching their puppies good manners and basic obedience. You
can have other pets in your home and if you are not able to commit to raising a
puppy fulltime, there are still other ways to get involved with your local puppy
club, such as puppy sitting. And, GDB's puppy raising program complements
many FFA, 4H, home schooling, high school, and college programs.
Guidance and support:
Puppy raisers receive continuous support and guidance. They typically join
local puppy raising clubs, where they gather with other GDB puppy raisers to
share ideas and information, work on puppy training techniques, and
participate in socialization outings. Puppy raisers are also invited to attend our
Guide Dog Training 1
Once the grown puppies return to our campuses from their puppy raising homes, the
dogs are ready to learn the tools of the trade. They discover how to become not just well-
behaved, meticulously socialized dogs, but professionals!
Now, they are about to embark on the career for which they've been preparing. For two
to three months the dogs are taught by skilled instructors to safely guide someone
through the complexities of pedestrian travel. Our Guide Dog Training program
maximizes the use of positive reinforcement methods, including science based Clicker
What are the unique abilities of Guide Dogs?
Our dogs are smart—very smart! In addition to learning how to lead a person safely
around obstacles, Guide Dogs are also trained in "intelligence disobedience": if they are
given an unsafe command, they are taught to not obey it (for example: refusing to step
out into the street when there is oncoming traffic). Guide Dogs are also trained to have
impeccable manners (for all those times they must visit places of public accommodation,
such as restaurants, grocery stores and public transportation), and are capable of
avoiding distractions (such as cats!). In addition, all Guide Dogs possess an eagerness to
please and a willingness to work. They choose their profession!
Guide Dog Training 2
Some of the skills Guide Dogs learn
Leading a person in a straight line from
point A to point B
Stopping for all changes in elevation,
including curbs and stairs
Stopping for overhead obstacles, such as
Avoiding obstacles in their path
Two things Guide Dogs can't do:
Determine the route to a new destination
Read traffic signals
Guide Dogs take their cues and commands
from their human partners; it's up to the
person to determine the routes they take
and if it is safe to cross a street. Through
repetition, they may remember a routine
course, but it is the blind person's job to
know where they are at all times.
Guide Dog Training 3
What are GDB's methods of training?
Our dogs are trained with positive reinforcement methods that use high value rewards
of both food and praise. An abundance of rewards, including physical and verbal
affection, builds motivation, confidence and produces a happy working Guide Dog.
Positive Reinforcement methods strive to make the young dog successful and prevent
them from making errors. In more advanced training, dogs are given the freedom to
make errors. Instructors use verbal cues and collar cues to gain the desired response,
which is followed by rewards.
GDB's training employs innovative training methods such as:
General food rewards
Emergency Responses for the handlers safety
Guide Dog Training 4
When is a dog paired with a blind person?
.Once the dogs have completed their training and know how to guide, they are ready to enter
what we call "class training." This is when a fully-trained dog is matched with a student
enrolled in one of our residential classes. We are committed to pairing the right dog with the
right person. Our extensive training ensures that the team is compatible in every area from
communication styles to personalities. The team spends two weeks learning to work together
in a variety of real-life situations. Graduation Day marks the end of class training and a new
beginning for the team as they make their way in the world. It is a special day filled with a lot
of love, as puppy raisers, graduates and Guide Dogs all take the stage to celebrate their
What's life like for a working Guide Dog?
What dog wouldn't envy the life of a Guide Dog? Guide Dogs get to go everywhere and do
everything their partners do and they are showered with attention. From work and school, to
shopping malls, restaurants and the hiking trail, Guide Dogs lead very active lives. When the
harness is on, Guide Dogs are "all business" serious about their work, and focused on the
safety of the team. When the harness comes off, however, it's play time!
How long is a Guide Dog in service?
Most Guide Dogs work until they are around 8-10 years old, but this varies with individual
dogs and their lifestyles. After spending a life of devoted partnership, Guide Dogs deserve to
spend their senior years in comfortable (and pampered!) retirement. They may remain with
their partner as a pet, return to the home where they were raised, or be placed in a loving
adoptive home. In all cases, they are honored and loved.
Kennel Program Overview
On any given day, our kennels are buzzing with newborn puppies with their fuzzy faces,
soulful brown eyes and wagging tails. When combining nature and nurture, our puppies
have the best of both worlds. From their excellent lineage (our Breeding Program), to
their nurtured environment when they enter the world (our Kennel Program), Guide
Dog puppies can't help but get off to a good start. Our kennel staff welcomes
approximately 800 pups into the world each year. Staff and volunteers ensure that all of
their earliest needs are met, from health care and nutrition to socialization and human
The dogs are all born into a warm and nurturing environment under the supervision of
our professional staff 24 hours a day. Why round-the-clock attention? It allows for:
Care and feeding of newborns
Efficient administration of medications
Oversight of veterinary treatment
Already very used to human contact, our puppies begin formal socializing at 9 days old
via our toddler socializing program, where they learn to enjoy humans in their personal
space. At 6 weeks of age, after being weaned from Mom, they are gently introduced to
the world by skilled puppy socialization volunteers. During their first daily outings they
encounter all kinds of new things, like stairways, grates, and unusual objects.
In addition to the pups, our kennels are full of the lively sounds and activities of many
Guide Dogs in various stages of their formal training
Dogs that are being boarded
Breeding stock dogs
Dogs awaiting placement in adoptive homes
Kennel Program Young Puppies
Long before our puppies are even born, they have been receiving the utmost in care while
they are in the womb. Pregnant female breeding stock dogs are brought to our California
campus whelping kennel about a week before their litters of puppies are due (gestation for
dogs is 63 days; "whelp" is the canine term for "birth"). To prepare for whelping, they are
put in stalls that contain plastic wading pools lined with newspaper. The whelping kennel
building is heated and cooled with an air exchange system that maintains clean air and an
even temperature additionally the stalls are warmed with radiant heating coils in the
floor. There are number of stalls equipped with closed-circuit cameras that allow the
kennel staff to keep an eye on the expectant moms around the clock.
When labor begins, the females start to "nest"—tearing the newspaper into small pieces
and settling into the pools. During the whelp, the Kennel staff is present to monitor the
labor and delivery and assist when needed. This assistance may involve:
assessing fetal heart rates
qualifying uterine contractions
resuscitating newborn puppies
clamping bleeding umbilical cords
feeding females tired from a long whelp
The newborn puppies are weighed daily for the first five to seven days of their lives to
ensure they are gaining weight properly. If a puppy's growth is lagging, the pup may be
bottle-fed or tube-fed with supplemented milk or formula. As a health precaution for the
newborn puppies, only the staff members working in the whelping kennel that day are
allowed to go into that kennel.
The puppies spend their first three weeks in the wading pool with their mother and
littermates to nurse. At 3 weeks of age, they graduate from the wading pool and are put on
the floor on shredded newspaper; they start eating solid food and are slowly weaned. They
Kennel Program Puppies
How do we keep track of all the
A shaved area on the shoulder
and/or hip identifies each puppy
after birth; this shaved area is
used for identification until the
pups are weaned. They eventually
receive a microchip inserted
under the skin by the shoulders.
The microchip can be scanned by
any veterinarian or rescue
organization and will alert them
to the fact that the dog is from
GDB. Additionally they will have
a collar with our information and
a shorter unique number that is
their ID number here a GDB.
Prior to being placed in their
puppy raising homes, each puppy
is given a name; all littermates
are given names that start with
the same letter of the alphabet.
When do the puppies meet the outside world?
At 6 weeks of age the puppies are moved to a
new kennel (called the puppy kennel) where
they share stalls with their littermates. It is
there that the pups are first introduced to the
outside world. Volunteers known as puppy
socializers expose them to strange, new objects,
smells and situations, so they will gain
confidence and experience. When the puppies
are about 8 weeks old, they are ready to be
placed with their raiser families living
throughout the Western states.
Kennel Program Enrichment
What purposes does the Kennel Enrichment Program
The program provides varied opportunities for human/dog
interaction with staff while the dogs are in the communal
runs. We use agility equipment (such as tunnels and walk-
over ramps) to allow the dogs successful experiences
through non-training-related activities, improve their
physical coordination and confidence, and heighten their
Our dogs have supervised access to a variety of toys
(including interactive wall-mounted toys), and are
introduced to different odors, sounds, and visual
stimulation in the kennels. Stuffed Kongs and frozen treats
serve as interactive goodies; spray-on scents give the dogs'
noses new smells to explore; piped-in music serves to soothe
and sound like home.
Play structures (tunnels, barrels, plastic play houses,
plastic baby pools) and crates or plastic "igloos" in runs
create micro-environments for the dogs, giving them choices
that can be either more stimulating or feel more secure for
them than their basic kennel stalls. All are designed to be
environmentally interesting and, in some cases, functional
(i.e., grooming tables mounted over barrels in which the
dogs can play).
The enrichment program is designed to give dogs a chance
Kennel Program Veterinary Program
Our veterinarians and registered veterinary technicians are there for the dogs
throughout their lives, and are available by phone 24 hours a day for emergencies. From
the time they are puppies receiving vaccinations, until they are working Guide Dogs in
the field, our veterinarians ensure their continued health. The pups all receive their
earliest care in our clinics and as they go into their puppy raising homes, our staff
consults with the raisers' local veterinarians. Once back at our campuses as adolescents,
the dogs all are reacquainted with our veterinary staff who do their check-ups during
their formal guidework training. And when the dogs graduate as guides, our staff
veterinarians consult with their peers throughout the United States and Canada where
the dogs live and work.
Some of the procedures our dogs and pups receive at our campus clinics include:
Digital X-rays (to check their hips and joints)
Dental prophylaxis, extractions and digital x-rays
Endoscopy (to retrieve foreign objects and evaluate internal organs)
Ultrasounds (to monitor the status of in-utero puppies, or to check a dog's heart and
Electrocardiagrams (to check their hearts)
On campus consultations from veterinary specialisits Radiology, Dermatology,
Research and Development
At Guide Dogs for the Blind, we are fortunate to have 60+ years of history that have
contributed to the success of our programs. But, in order to stay relevant to the
changing needs of our students and alumni, we are proud to be leaders in innovation
as well. Research and Development Director Michele Pouliot and others among our
professional staff continue to revolutionize the way we train our dogs, accommodate
our students, and serve as a model for guide dog schools the world over.
A few significant milestones of our Research and Development Program include:
The creation of the BEST method (the Balanced Education System for Training Guide
Dogs). The BEST method encompasses a myriad of practices designed to improve the
ease of learning for our dogs as well as to protect the health and safety of our trainers.
BEST consists of several kennel enrichment, socialization and training innovations,
Treadmill Training - Dogs are gently introduced to the mechanics of guiding in
harness while walking on a treadmill. Our dogs receive three treadmill sessions
before they begin their regular training workouts. The dogs really enjoy getting on the
treadmills, and the instructors find it much easier to cue the dogs into position after
they've had the treadmill exposure.
Pattern Training This method of early training introduces the dogs to desired
behaviors repeatedly so they begin to understand what is expected of them. The
training is geared to build the dog's confidence by focusing on what the dog does right.
With this very affirmative, low-key introduction to guidework, the dogs become very
confident, and are eager to show off their newfound skills!
Food Reward Programs Food rewards may be used as a positive reinforcement
method to counter undesirable behaviors. When the dog exhibits an undesirable
behavior, it is immediately asked to respond positively to another command for which
Research and Development
The Guide Dog Wheelchair Program:
Guide Dogs are specially trained to work alongside a motorized wheelchair.
Students using wheelchairs are taught the mechanics of the wheelchair/Guide
Dog combination. This program is currently available only to Guide Dogs Alumni.
Guide Dogs Custom Needs Program:
Guide Dogs consistently explores creative solutions to guidework challenges such
as the use of prosthetic limbs, the use of support canes, etc.
Harness Design Innovations:
Alternative harness designs have been developed to be less restrictive to the dogs,
as well as more ergonomic and user-friendly to the handlers.
Education and Advocacy:
Development of guidelines, advice and reference material for our graduates when
dealing with free-roaming dogs and dog attacks; rehabilitative techniques for
guides that have been attacked.
Continuous Quality Improvement:
Evaluation and updates to our puppy raising, breeding and training programs.
Post Graduate Support
Guide Dogs is dedicated to expanding the web of support for blind people and
their guides in their communities. Through strong connections with local
veterinarians, puppy raising clubs, agencies and organizations, a powerful
network is at the ready to offer support and camaraderie. GDB's extensive follow-
up program is the most comprehensive of its kind, including everything from
phone consultation, personal home visits, education, advocacy, and networking.
Our commitment continues through the working life of the dogs, their retirement
All alumni are offered annual visits in their homes.
Our professionally certified instructors are stationed across the United States to
provide in-home assessment and assistance to our alumni. We also offer
telephone counseling for dog management, veterinary questions, or mobility
We have a professional peer counselor on staff that is available for consultation
on emotional issues, such as family adjustment or a dog's retirement.
The Veterinary Financial Assistance Program ensures that all dogs receive the
quality health care they deserve; financial assistance is available when needed to
reimburse alumni for some of the cost of veterinary care. Staff veterinarians are
always available for consultations with local veterinarians.
We provide access and discrimination assistance upon request, such as
information regarding pertinent laws and penal codes to individuals or businesses
to prevent denial of access or other discrimination against Guide Dog users.
Canadian Guide Dogs for the
Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind (CGDB) is a national, non-profit, registered,
charitable organization that was founded in 1984. The mission statement is:
"To assist visually-impaired Canadians with their mobility by providing and training
them in the use of professionally trained Guide Dogs."
Initially, the Centre was housed in rental properties and in 1987 the building of the
current National Training Centre was completed just outside of Manotick, Ontario (16
miles south of Ottawa). The Training Centre is situated on 9 acres and includes a
kennel that can house 30 dogs. The main house has accommodation for eight students
and administration offices.
Successes to Date
1984 First Guide Dog Team graduated in July.
1985 CGDB becomes the first Guide Dog school to receive provincial accreditation within the Blind
Persons' Rights Act of Ontario.
1986 First litter of puppies born in CGDB breeding program.
1987 100th puppy placed on Puppy Walking program.
Began construction of Training Centre in Manotick.
1988 National Training Centre officially opened.
1989 Established as a charter member of the International Federation of Guide Dog Schools for the Blind.
First Canadian obtained certification as a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor under internationally recognized
training program (after completing the 3-year apprentice program).
1990 100th Guide Dog team graduated in June.
21st Litter of Pups born in CGDB breeding program.
1991 Second Canadian obtained certification as a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor under internationally
recognized training program.
1992 Passed on-site inspection by IFGDSB.
Opened B.C. Branch office in Richmond, B.C.
1993 Third and Fourth Canadians obtained certification as a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor under
internationally recognized training program.
200th Guide Dog team graduated.
1994 10th Anniversary of Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind, marked by a weekend celebration.
1995 Fifth and Sixth Canadians obtained certification as a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor under
internationally recognized training program.
1996 300th Guide Dog team graduated in November.
1997 Began establishing fundraising Chapters across Canada.
1998 Seventh and Eighth Canadians obtained certification as a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor under
internationally recognized training program.
1999 400th Guide Dog team graduated in August.
2001 1000th Pup placed on the Puppy Walking Program.
2003 500th Guide Dog team graduated.
2004 20th Anniversary of Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind places puppies at approximately 7 weeks of age with
foster families called "puppy walkers" who raise the pups for 12 to 18 months. The Puppy
Walkers socialize the puppies, which are mainly golden retrievers and Labrador retrievers,
to as many different, everyday environments as possible. The socialization begins in the
home and gradually advances to quiet residential areas and slowly works up to restaurants,
shopping malls, public transit, elevators and so on. This program is supervised by a Puppy
Walking Coordinator from Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind.
The first formative year is of vital importance in the temperamental and physical growth of a
young dog and all activities with a puppy should be directed to the development of habits
and characteristics that form the basis of a Guide Dog.
The puppy stays with the family until they are between twelve and eighteen months of age,
after which the pup begins its formal training at the Training Centre with a Guide Dog
A working Guide Dog provides mobility and independence to the visually-
The Guide Dog does not have any
unusual gifts or powers. The dog does
not "watch" for stop lights to turn
green, but rather waits for a change in
traffic direction. The animal has been
taught to respond to commands from
the owner, such as "Forward", "Left",
"Right" and "Straight on", and will only
disregard a command when it could
lead to a dangerous situation for the
Guide Dog team.
Guide dogs in general can be recognized
by a harness and a handle which is held
in the owner's left hand. Guide dogs
from Canadian Guide Dogs for the
Blind wear a white harness.
Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind
offers Guide Dog training as well as
transportation to and from the Training
Centre, room and board while the client
is on class, for the symbolic cost of $1.
The client is responsible for the care,
feeding and veterinary costs of their
The Mira Foundation Inc
Saint Madeleine, Quebec
On 21 octobre 1981, Éric St-Pierre proudly
presented two blind individuals with the first two
guide dogs trained in Quebec. In so doing, he
began a charitable endeavour completely
dedicated to helping the handicapped. His first
order of business was to ensure that both users
and partners would be willing participants as he
sought to establish both a viable range of services
and funding to provide dogs free of charge.
In 1991, MIRA creates a guide-dog program for
blind youngsters. Since that time, MIRA has been
the only school in the world to provide guide dogs
to blind individuals under 15, having given more
than 85 guide dogs to young teenagers in Quebec,
Ontario, the Maritime Provinces, France and
In the beginning, MIRA trained mostly with
Labradors and Bernese Mountain dogs. In 1991,
Éric St-Pierre developed a breed—the Labernese
(a cross between the Labrador and the Bernese
Mountain dog)—that was to become the first
In 1992, MIRA continues in an
innovative vein and explores
how a service dog could be
trained to help children with
multiple disabilities and
individuals with physical
handicaps. MIRA has since
expanded its programs by
providing service dogs to such
In 2003, MIRA has put in
place a research program to
help children afflicted with
disorders (PDD) such as
autism. To date, 92 dogs have
been assigned to this program.
In 2006, MIRA became
member of the International
Guide Dog Federation (IGDF).
MIRA owns a 49,140 square meters lot on which five
buildings stand—a housing facility to accommodate
10 guests at a time during a month in the guide dogs
program; another housing facility to accommodate
10 guests at a time during a 21-day period in the
service dogs program; a canine maternity ward for
gravid females with a production capacity of 500
puppies per year; a veterinary clinic equipped with
high-tech technology instruments, an examination
room, an operating room and an X-Ray room, a
kennel able to board 100 dogs in training. The
buildings and grounds are also used for training
Since its founding in 1981, MIRA has given away
over 2,000 guide and service dogs.
The cost of a guide or service dog is $ 30,000 and
each dog is given free of charge. MIRA does not
receive any government funds, its financing depends
At MIRA, we subscribe to a
principle of physical
equality. Namely, we
believe that anything that
is accessible to the public at
large should be accessible to
Our work consists in
helping individuals with
one or many disabilities to
adapt to life with these
We concentrate our efforts
on improving the functional
abilities of individuals, in
particular in regard to
mobility and orientation, so
that they can get around
freely in their living
Guide dog for the blind
Since 1990, with guide dogs being made
available to blind youngsters, a great step
forward has been taken in the area of
orientation, mobility, integration,
organization of guide dog services and social
It is important to emphasize the major
contribution that a guide dog makes to a
youngsters’ social development. As one of
the parents bluntly stated, “It’s easier to
hook up when you have a guide dog.” Guide
dogs help the kids to interact socially and
avoid isolation. Finally, the dog’s
contribution to the youngsters’ emotional
life appears to be important, but this
remains to be demonstrated conclusively.
The youth class, like the adult program,
lasts 30 days. The youngsters are housed on
site. Average class size is six.
During the four weeks of their stay,
the youngsters get to know their
animal and learn to interact with it.
Gradually, they assimilate the skills
needed to work with a dog and
orient themselves in a regulated
outdoor environment, such as the
downtown area of a densely
populated city with significant
When the class is over, with their
guide dogs in tow, the kids return to
their daily activities—family
activities, orientation and mobility
work, and school. The youngsters
are the sole users of their guide
dogs; they have worked very hard to
earn this right. Immediately
following the class, the training
staff monitor and provide guidance
to the kids as they put what they’ve
learned in class into practice.
Subsequently, follow-up can be
according to a regular schedule or