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Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) is a guide dog school located in the United States, with campuses in San Rafael, California, and Boring, Oregon. It was founded in 1942 by Lois Merrihew and Don Donaldson to help veterans who had been blinded in World War II. Guide Dogs for the Blind has about 2100 Guide Dog teams across the United States and Canada.
Guide Dogs for the Blind was established in 1942 in response to the need for service dogs to help wounded servicemen that were coming back blind from World War II. The first building it operated in was a rented house in Los Gatos, California. The first dog to graduate through the program was a rescued German Shepherd named Blondie; she was paired with Sgt. Leonard Foulk. In 1947, the organization moved to their current location in San Rafael, California and in 1995 started a program at a second campus in Boring, Oregon. Today GDB is the largest guide dog school in the United States. This non-profit organization provides services to blind and visually impaired individuals from the United States and Canada for no cost including well-trained service dogs and the veterinary care that goes with them.
Over the years Guide Dogs for the Blind has worked with different breeds of dogs in order to find the best for training, as well as being a lifelong companion. They started off with rescued dogs and in the 1940s started their own breeding program. At the time, they were mostly German Shepherds, which became the breed of choice for many guide dog organizations, and GDB used them all the way until 2007, at which point they reevaluated the success of the breed. Today, they have a healthy breeding colony consisting of Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Lab/Golden crosses. Guide Dogs focuses its breeding on the qualities needed in a guide including excellent health, willingness to work, high desire to please, intelligence, and an easy-to-work-with temperament.
Guide Dogs for the Blind also participates in an international program in which guide dogs schools from around the world work together to diversify the gene pool in the breeding colonies by providing puppies from high success parents to other schools. This creates a healthier breeding colony for all who participate.
Puppy raising is one of the dog programs in which volunteers are needed. These volunteers sign up to receive a puppy who is about eight weeks old and will take care of, train, and socialize their dog until they are about 13-15 months old. Puppy raisers belong to a local club where they get support and training on how to best work with their puppy. They are responsible for teaching the dog basic obedience and good manners while home and out working. The puppy raising program currently exists in the following states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Washington.). There are currently more than 2,000 families who are participating in this puppy raising program.
The dogs are recalled for formal training at one of Guide Dogs for the Blind's campuses between 13 and 15 months old at which point they start going through intense training with specialized instructors. This training consists of an eight-phase program in which the dog gradually learns more guide work. This includes leading a person in a straight line, stopping at any change in ground elevation as well as overhead obstacles, and obstacle avoidance. This 8 phase program typically lasts two to three months and if a dog passes their final walk with a blindfolded trainer they are considered "class ready." This means that at that point GDB starts to look for a good match. When it comes to putting together a team Guide Dogs for the Blind considers the lifestyle of the individual and the dog, the speed of their gaits, the size of the dog, as well as other issues that may affect the dogs ability to guide (e.g. a dog who hates water going to a rainy place). Any person who is blind or visually impaired desiring enhanced mobility and independence can benefit from having the independence a guide dog can provide. The person must be legally blind, able to travel independently, and suited to work with a dog. Typically, six to eight students take part in each of GDB's two-week training sessions. Typically two students are paired with a state-certified instructor during this two-week period. If the student and dog bond and work well together they will graduate the program in an official ceremony in which the puppy raising family will formally present the dog to their new partner.
Dogs that are not suitable for guide dog work due to health or behavior issues are dropped from training and are described as "career changed." The first option that GDB looks at for the career changed dogs is to see if they have a temperament that would work well with a child. If this is the case they may be entered into the K9 Buddy program at GDB. This program places these dogs as pets with visually impaired children, giving the children not only companionship, but the opportunity to learn to care for a dog. This experience helps prepare them for the responsibilities involved with having a guide dog someday. If a child goes through the K9 buddy program they are qualified to receive a guide dog at an earlier age.
If a dog is also not suitable to be a K9 buddy, career changed dogs will also be examined to see if it they are fit to be of service to other organizations. Many of our dogs go on to have different careers that assist people and communities in a wide variety of service roles. Some of the organizations they work with include Dogs for Diabetes, Hearing Dog Program, Search and Rescue as well as others. If the dog is not suitable for any other organization then the puppy raiser has the option to adopt the dog. If the puppy raiser does not adopt the dog then GDB will find a suitable adopted family for the dog. They take great care in matching these career changed dogs to their new families and are dedicated to the success of that relationship. Adoption is only open to those individuals living in the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and North Texas.
Guide Dogs for the Blind (or GDB) is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization supported entirely by private donations. GDB receives no government funding and there are no costs for individuals who receive a guide dog. Donors contribute through general contributions, bequests, grants, memorial and honor donations, charitable remainder trusts and other planned giving options.
Guide dogs are assistance dogs trained to lead blind or visually impaired people around obstacles. Although dogs can be trained to navigate various obstacles, they are red–green color blind and incapable of interpreting street signs. The human does the directing, based on skills acquired through previous mobility training. The handler might be likened to an aircraft's navigator, who must know how to get from one place to another, and the dog is the pilot, who gets them there safely. In several countries guide dogs, along with most other service and hearing dogs, are exempt from regulations against the presence of animals in places such as restaurants and public transportation.
The Labrador Retriever, often abbreviated to Labrador or Lab, is a medium-large gun dog from the United Kingdom that was developed from imported Canadian fishing dogs. The Labrador is one of the most popular dog breeds in a number of countries in the world, particularly in the Western world.
The Vizsla is a dog breed from Hungary and belongs to the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI) group 7, the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) group 1, and the American Kennel Club. Its name means "searcher" or "tracker" in Hungarian. The Hungarian or Magyar Vizsla or Smooth-Haired Vizsla are sporting dogs and loyal companions. The Vizsla's medium size is one of the breed's most appealing characteristics. As a hunter of fowl and upland game, the Vizsla has held a prominent position among sporting dogs – that of household companion and family dog.
In general, an assistance dog, known as a service dog in the United States, is a dog trained to aid or assist an individual with a disability. Many are trained by an assistance dog organisation, or by their handler, often with the help of a professional trainer.
The American Water Spaniel,, is a breed of spaniel which originated in the United States. It was developed in the state of Wisconsin during the 19th century from a number of other breeds, including the Irish and English Water Spaniels. The breed was saved by Dr. Fred J. Pfeifer, who set up the breed club and standard, and whose work led to recognition for the breed by the United Kennel Club, and later, the American Kennel Club. While they are the state dog of Wisconsin, they remain a rare breed.
The Flat-coated Retriever is a gundog breed originating from England. It was developed as a retriever both on land and in the water.
A retriever is a type of gun dog that retrieves game for a hunter. Generally gun dogs are divided into three major classifications: retrievers, flushing spaniels, and pointing breeds. Retrievers were bred primarily to retrieve birds or other prey and return them to the hunter without damage; retrievers are distinguished in that nonslip retrieval is their primary function. As a result, retriever breeds are bred for soft mouths and a great willingness to please, learn, and obey. A soft mouth refers to the willingness of the dog to carry game in its mouth without biting into it. "Hard mouth" is a serious fault in a hunting dog and is very difficult to correct. A hard-mouthed dog renders game unpresentable or at worst inedible.
A Labradoodle is a crossbreed dog created by crossing the Labrador Retriever and the Standard, Miniature, or Toy poodle. The term first appeared in 1955, but was not initially popular. Labradoodles are considered a good choice for people with canine dander allergies, since some have the same hypoallergenic coat as their poodle ancestors.
The Australian Shepherd is a breed of herding dog from the United States. Developed in California in the 19th century, it is claimed the breed descends from a variety of herding breeds including collies imported into California alongside sheep imported from Australia and New Zealand, the breed taking its name from the former. Originally used solely as a herding dog, the Australian Shepherd has become one of the most popular companion dog breeds in North America.
The Portuguese Water Dog originated from the Algarve region of Portugal. From there the breed expanded to all around Portugal's coast, where they were taught to herd fish into fishermen's nets, retrieve lost tackle or broken nets, and act as couriers from ship to ship, or ship to shore. Portuguese Water Dogs rode in fishing trawlers as they worked their way from the Atlantic waters of Portugal to the waters off the coast of Iceland fishing for cod.
The Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever is a medium-sized gundog bred primarily for hunting. It is often referred to as a "toller". It is the smallest of the retrievers, and is often mistaken for a small Golden Retriever. Tollers are intelligent, eager to please, alert, and energetic. The name "toller" is derived from their ability to lure waterfowl within gunshot range. The breed originated in Yarmouth County, Nova Scotia, Canada. The American Kennel Club ranks the toller as the 87th most popular dog breed.
An animal rescue group or animal rescue organization is dedicated to pet adoption. These groups take unwanted, abandoned, abused, or stray pets and attempt to find suitable homes for them. Many rescue groups are created by and run by volunteers, who take animals into their homes and care for them — including training, playing, handling medical issues, and solving behavior problems — until a suitable permanent home can be found.
Leader Dogs for the Blind is a guide dog training organization located in Rochester Hills, Michigan. It was founded in 1939 by Lions Club members Charles Nutting, Don Schuur and S.A. Dodge, as the second guide dog organization founded in the United States and has paired over 14,500 dogs with the visually impaired worldwide, making it one of the largest organizations of its kind.
The Seeing Eye, Inc. is a guide dog school located in Morristown, New Jersey, in the United States. Founded in 1929, the Seeing Eye is the oldest, and one of the largest, of guide dog schools in the U.S. The Seeing Eye campus in Morristown includes administrative offices, dormitory residence for students, a veterinary care center, and kennels; there is also a breeding station in Chester, NJ. The Seeing Eye, a founding member of the U.S. Council of Guide Dog Schools and a fully accredited member of the International Guide Dog Federation, is a lead researcher in canine genetics, breeding, disease control, and behavior.
Gun dogs are used to hunt all sorts of game. Some are used in the pursuit of big game, although the majority of working gun dogs are used to hunt upland game birds.
Canine Companions for Independence is a US-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that trains and provides assistance dogs. As of 2018, it has placed over 6,000 assistance dogs with recipients at no charge.
Guiding Eyes for the Blind is one of eleven accredited schools in the U.S. for training guide dogs — dogs trained to lead the blind and visually impaired. It houses a 10-acre (40,000 m2) headquarters, training center and veterinary clinic in Yorktown Heights, New York, and it also operates a canine development center in Patterson, New York, and a training site in White Plains, New York.
Australian Customs Service breeds and trains Labradors to detect illegal drugs, firearms, explosives and hazardous chemical precursors associated with the manufacture or deployment of chemical weapons. Each year these dogs are responsible for hundreds of detections.
The Golden Retriever is a medium-large gun dog that was bred to retrieve shot waterfowl, such as ducks and upland game birds, during hunting and shooting parties. The name "retriever" refers to the breed's ability to retrieve shot game undamaged due to their soft mouth. Golden retrievers have an instinctive love of water, and are easy to train to basic or advanced obedience standards. They are a long-coated breed, with a dense inner coat that provides them with adequate warmth in the outdoors, and an outer coat that lies flat against their bodies and repels water. Golden retrievers are well suited to residency in suburban or country environments. They shed copiously, particularly at the change of seasons, and require fairly regular grooming. The Golden Retriever was originally bred in Scotland in the mid-19th century.
Pick of the Litter is a 2018 American documentary film by Dana Nachman and Don Hardy about a two-year odyssey following puppies training to be guide dogs for the blind. It had its world premiere at the Slamdance Film Festival in January. A web television series of the same name inspired by the film and following a new group of dogs was released on Disney+ on December 20, 2019.