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Guide Dogs for the Blind
Then and now...

Founded in 1942, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc. has provided over 14,000 dogs for visually impaired persons across North America. Guide Dogs was originally started to aid World War II veterans coming back from the war with wounds that affected their sight. There are now two campuses, one in San Rafael, California and the other in Boring, Oregon. The first pair to graduate from Guide Dogs for the Blind was a German shepherd named "Blondie" and her partner, Sgt. Leonard Foulk.

The breeds of dog used in this program include Labrador Retrievers, Lab/Golden Crosses, and Golden Retrievers. Puppies are bred at the facility in San Rafael and at two months of age are given to puppy raising volunteers. Puppy raisers socialize and train dogs until they are about sixteen to eighteen months old. They take them to stores, restaurants, school, work, and other exciting places during the year. Raisers also teach pups basic obedience including sit, down, stand, stay, and do your business. Each puppy's development is carefully monitored by leaders of clubs. There are more than 1,400 puppy raising families involved in clubs, like Eyes for Others, in eight western states; Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington. These clubs provide support and advice for puppy raisers. At the end of the year the puppy raiser must return the dog to the training facility.

The next step in a dog's training occurs back in San Rafael where professional trainers run the dog through a series of tests and training exercises. If the dog passes all phases of health and temperament testingit will be paired with a visually impaired partner. The pair will train together for a couple of weeks and then graduate in a ceremony where the puppy raiser gets to meet the blind partner and formally present the dog to them.

Statistics about Guide Dogs for the Blind as of June 30, 2011

  • Active Guide Dog Teams: 2,200
  • New teams Graduated: 302
  • Graduate and applicant home visits: 1,922
  • Puppies whelped: 912
  • Career change dogs placed: 183
  • Average Life of a Guide Dog Team: Over 7 years
  • Annual Cost of Veterinary Program: $2.6 million
  • Breeds and Numbers of Dogs: 186 dogs in breeding colony; 878 puppies in homes. More than 80% are Labrador Retrievers. Lab/Golden Crosses, and Golden Retrievers are also used. Around half become Guide Dogs
  • Length of Training: Formal training for dogs is approximately 3 months; training for students is 2 to 3 weeks
  • Average Age of Students: Around 50 years of age (students have ranged from 14 to 92 years)
  • Employment Rate for Graduates: About a third are employed
  • Number of GDB Staff/Volunteers on Both Campuses: 243 employees and 679 campus volunteers
  • Annual Operating Budget and Percentage Spent on Core Program vs. Administration: $30 million operating budget; 82.9% core program vs. 17.1% administration
  • Cost of a Guide Dog Team: When all costs are factored in, the total may exceed $65,000
  • Cost to the Students: Zero. All expenses are covered by donations to Guide Dogs for the Blind
“Eyes for Others”   ~   Revised: December 2016    ~   www.yologuidedogs.com