Seeing Eye Dogs
One of the ways in which dogs enhance the lives of humans is through service. Canines often provide assistance to those who are blind. These dogs are known as service dogs, seeing eye dogs or guide dogs.
There are groups around the world that organize the training of the dogs, the training of the owners as well as the placement of the dogs within a home. The seeing eye dogs are most commonly German Shepards, Golden Retrievers or Labrador Retrievers. The Seeing Eye dog group, located in New Jersey, will also train boxers as seeing eye dogs for people who are allergic to long haired dogs. Regardless of the breed, the dog must be centered, focused and willing to serve people.
Most guide dogs spend their puppy-hood in a foster home. These homes take the dogs in at a young age to prepare them for a life of service. The puppies usually go to their foster homes at eight weeks old. Their family is responsible for basic training, and more importantly, socialization. The puppies must be exposed to a variety of different environments, dogs, people, animals and situations in order to become a reliable seeing-eye dog. Once the puppies are a year and a half old, they return to the seeing eye dog agency where they spend another four or five months with a professional dog trainer. After the puppies complete their official training, they are matched up with a person in need of their assistance.
The dogs usually work as guides or seeing eye dogs for up to eight years, though some work for much longer. Many seeing eye dog organizations also operate adoption programs for retired dogs, or trained dogs that turned out to be unsuitable for the work. A dog can be unsuitable due to physical limitations, or personality characteristics.
Seeing eye or guide dogs do a great service for many people. They are truly canine heroes throughout the world.