A guide dog is an amazing animal, which becomes your companion, best friend and soul mate. Someone who is blind or who has to rely on the dog because they are maybe in a wheelchair will have to trust the dog completely.
This is the animal which is responsible for taking you across the road when you can’t see where you are going. He is your helping hand, but he is also your friend. This is one relationship that will last for a long time to come.
The Basic Facts
As you can imagine the training procedure for this is intense. It obviously has to be strict and controlled since the dog is going to be held responsible for a lot of things. A lot of these animals are disqualified or they will be retired and even given up for various reasons.
It could be that the owners are moving or have passed on. There are a number of reasons why owners will have to give the dogs away. This is the time for them to be adopted. It is a huge challenge to take up and not every dog is suitable.
Some of them don’t make it further in their training because they are either hyperactive or they are not totally fit. A dog who constantly flairs up with allergies, or hip and elbow problems will probably not be considered. Some of these dogs are not suitable in a home with other pets and children. Dogs that have to move from an owner’s home often go to a community or organization where they would be helpful such as the search and rescue program or as therapy for someone.
A guide dog is not like a rescue dog found on the street begging for a home. Something like a guide dog for the blind is fully trained and you may have to wait up to 6 years in order to get one. The dog is matched to the needs of the owner.
The typical dog guide breed you can expect to find will usually be a German Shepherd, a golden retriever or a Labrador retriever. These are the breeds that are chosen for intelligence, their willingness to work and to be able to handle stress.
They are usually healthy and are good in public. The first breeds that were trained as guide dogs were German Shepherds, which was around the time of the World War I, when nothing else was available. They were known to work long hours. As time moved on, people were finding that these dogs were not always easy to handle and Labrador Retrievers became more well known.
To get onto the waiting list you will have to contact the rehoming officer nearest to you. A dog will retire around the age of 10 years, but may be suffering with health problems like arthritis. You will also find that they enjoy human contact. They have been with the same person most of their lives and when left alone they will become stressed.
Dogs that don’t make it in the training program because of health reasons may also need frequent trips to the vet. Sometimes they will not qualify because of their behavioural problems and this is something else you have to check out. Overall, a guide dog who is dropped from the training program can still make a fantastic pet.
How about you become a guide dog volunteer
If you find that the waiting list is going to take forever to get your name to the top then it may be a nice idea to sign up as a volunteer. It can be hugely rewarding. This can be done through Guide Dogs for the Blind. As a trainer, you will receive an 8 week year old Labrador or Golden Retriever puppy. The dog will then stay with you for a year, getting house trained and sociable.
They have to be exposed to different people and places as well as a whole host of experiences during this time. Of course, you have to become qualified before you become a trainer. This is something that you have to be dedicated to doing. You will also have to work with other puppy raisers as well as the clubs. Being an ambassador is an important part of this.