Today is International Guide Dog Day – a day to celebrate and recognize all the work these dogs do to make peoples’ lives easier and a little more enjoyable. So, what exactly is a guide dog and what do they do? They actually have a very important job that most people don’t recognize.
A guide dog helps people who are visually impaired or blind. These dogs give people a little more freedom than they would have without a pooch to guide them through everyday life. These specially trained dogs help people travel independently, navigate streets by assisting their owner to avoid obstacles, finding locations, and stopping at curbs. They also help their owners use public transportation, and are always there to not only be a good companion, but a good friend.
Not all canine breeds are used as guide dogs. The most common dogs on the job are Labradors and Golden Retrievers, but there are a few German Shepherds that step up to the plate, too. One dog doesn’t fit all! Dogs are carefully selected for people based on their certain mobility needs, personality, physical capabilities, size, and their surrounding environments.
These guide dogs can help people in amazing ways. For example, Sami loved to run but went blind in 8th grade. She didn’t want her disability to stop her from doing what she loved, and that’s where her guide dog, Chloe, came in. Sami and Chloe started running together to build Chloe’s endurance so they could run cross country together. That’s right, cross country – running all around in the woods together.
Although, the state wouldn’t let Chloe run with Sami at first, the school fought for her and won. The first race the unique duo did together, Sami set a personal record. There are a few different rules that Sami and Chloe have to follow, like starting 20 seconds later than everyone else so that neither of them get entangled with other runners. Chloe also wears a harness, and when the harness is on, she’s all business and no one else can touch her except for Sami. However, when the harness comes off, she’s all puppy and wants to be loved by anyone and everyone.
Another guide dog that has made an enormous impact on someone’s life is Jenny. She’s a guide dog for a blind couple, Chen and her husband, and has given them more freedom than they have ever had. Jenny is a black Labrador and helps Chen do her grocery shopping. All Chen has to do is say something like, “Jenny, take me to the yogurt,” and Jenny will then take her to the yogurt section. That’s not the only thing Jenny does though! Once Chen picks up a brand of yogurt, if it’s the right brand then Jenny will sit, but if it’s the wrong brand then Jenny will stay standing.
One evening, Jenny and Chen went for a casual stroll outside when Jenny suddenly pushed her into a wall. A bit dazed and confused, Chen brushed herself off before coming to the realization that Jenny had just pushed Chen out of the way of a biker that was coming through. So, not only does Jenny help Chen pick the right brand of food, but she also helps her dodge obstacles that might injure her.
So, now that you know what all a guide dog does, and how much of an impact they have on people’s lives, do you know someone who would benefit by having a guide dog? All you have to do to help find a four legged friend to those in need is get in touch with Guide Dog to discuss all the options. The best part, the service is free because it’s all funded through donations and charity support.
Already know someone who has a guide dog? Share their story. Let people see how important guide dogs are, and how much people benefit from them. If you want to celebrate this special day, you can always send your support by sponsoring a guide dog. Share the love. Share a story. Share your support.