Guide Dogs For The Blind : Golden Retriever As The Favorite One
Guide dogs for the blind are trained to help blind or visually impaired people navigate in a sighted world, helping restore their independence.
They’re probably the most familiar type of service dog. These dogs basically serve as the eyes for their owner. They help them navigate them through traffic, stairs and sidewalks.
At the same time, they skillfully avoid all obstacles that could cause injury. They create a bridge for their owner between the sighted and blind worlds. They help blind people lead more independent, productive lives.
What Can Guide Dogs for the Blind Do?.
These specially-trained dogs help blind people go just about anywhere sighted people can go. In fact, they are so important and so special that the law protect them in the United States.
No one may prevent a seeing eye dog and his owner from entering any public place, even if regular dogs aren’t allowed there. Seeing eye dogs have many responsibilities. They lead their owners on sidewalks, across streets, down stairs, and onto transportation systems.
They even keep track of obstacles like doorways, curbs, and low-hanging light fixtures. It’s no wonder everyone thinks these dogs are nothing short of amazing!
Who Can Own Guide Dogs for the Blind?.
A person who wants to own one of these amazing dogs must have:
- A vision impairment severe enough for the dog to be of real benefit to them.
- In most cases that means being legally blind.
- A desire to use the dog as a working dog.
- A sense of orientation.
- That means having the innate ability to find one’s way around.
- Adequate balance.
- The confidence and physical fitness to manage the dog.
- Sufficient hearing or vision to recognize traffic and the direction it’s coming from.
- A welcoming home.
- That’s because a dog won’t work well if he lives in a tense or unhappy place.
Rules of Etiquette When You Meet Guide Dogs for the Blind.
We’re all drawn to these special dogs. But there are some etiquette rules you should follow in order to be courteous and thoughtful. Most importantly, you should never pet one when he’s on duty.
You can ask if it’s all right to say hello to a dog who isn’t working at the moment–one lying under a table in a restaurant, for example. But the job has to come first, and confusing the dog–or the person–could be dangerous. So don’t be offended if the person says no. Here are some other things to remember when you meet one of these special dogs:
- Never offer him any food.
- Don’t talk to him when he’s working.
- Keep your own dog on a leash and close beside you.
- Don’t whistle at on-duty guide dogs. You’ll draw his attention away from his work.
What Is The Difference Between “Seeing Eye Dogs” And “Guide Dogs For The Blind”?.
The only difference between “guide dogs For The Blind” and “seeing eye dogs” is in name only. A guide dog is the generic term for any service dog formally in use to help the blind get around. A “seeing eye dog” is a specific trademark of the Seeing Eye, Inc. organization. The two terms are often interchangeable, however.
The Golden Retriever Breed is a Favorite Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Golden retriever dogs and Labrador retriever dogs are the most popular guide dog breeds today, along with Lab-Golden mixes.
German Shepherd Dogs were the favored breed when guide dog training was in its infancy, And many are still used today.
Seeing eye dogs must be intelligent, patient, and tireless workers. They also need to be large enough to wear heavy harnesses on their backs. But at the same time, they need to be small enough not to get in the way in stores, classrooms, restaurants and other places.
Most Golden Retrievers fit these guidelines. Golden retriever dogs are loving and affectionate, with an eagerness to please. A Golden Retriever also creates a good impression as he goes about his work. Everybody loves a friendly, happy Golden! Their natural friendliness and lack of aggression helps them work well in crowds of people.
Most of the guide dog organizations use Golden Retrievers in their programs. The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (GDBA) in the U.K. uses Goldens because the breed has “a high level of initiative and concentration, and an affable and gentle disposition.”
The Golden also has an excellent memory for routes. The Guide Dogs of America organization has been running since 1948, and about one-third of its dogs are Golden retrievers. They chose the breed because “they love to work and are so devoted to their masters.”
The steady, patient Golden Retriever temperament helps them remain quiet and inconspicuous in the office, classroom or restaurant, and then become instantly alert and working when needed.
The History of Guide Dogs for the Blind.
The idea of using a dog to lead the blind is far from new. A Germanic king is said to have been the first to do so, somewhere around 100 B.C.
For many centuries, blind people have followed their dogs on familiar routes. Illustrations from the Middle Ages show leashed dogs leading the way. In the 1700s a few organizations trained dogs for the job. But the teaching methods were crude and each dog learned only one or two routes.
During the First World War, many soldiers lost their sight due to eye injuries or poison gas. German military dog trainers had seen first-hand how much a dog could do, and decided to help dogs learn to guide the blind veterans. A guide dog school based on professional training methods was started in Germany. And gradually the idea spread to other countries.
Today there are more than seventy such schools around the world. Although these schools each have their minor differences, they all have a common goal: to provide a vision-impaired person with independence through the use of a trained guide dog.
Dogs and owners remain partners for about eight to ten years. By then, it’s time for the owner’s faithful companion to retire and let a younger dog take over his duties.
Retired guide dogs go to live with carefully chosen families who have often been on a waiting list for a long time. After all, with or without a harness, these are very special dogs!.