The Issue: Cost of Raising Guide Dogs
Each year, Guide Dogs for the Blind places 850 puppies with raiser families as the first stage of their journey to becoming guide dogs. When they are eight or nine weeks old, each puppy gets loaded onto a special puppy-friendly truck for the trip from the organization’s San Rafael, California campus to homes as far as Texas, Colorado, and Washington. Guide Dogs for the Blind must fund the dozens of trips made each year out-of-pocket, adding up to a considerable annual expense.
The Campaign: Transporting Future Guide Dogs to Temporary Homes
All donations to this Grassroots campaign will be used by Guide Dogs for the Blind to transport puppies to new homes, where they’ll begin the process of becoming guide dogs. For every $200 raised, the organization can transport one puppy to the home of a volunteer host family. Over the course of 14–18 months, the volunteer raisers teach the dog basic commands—such as sit, stay, down, and come—and socialize it to behave properly in all sorts of everyday situations, including at restaurants or on a bus. At the end of its stay with a volunteer family, the dog returns to the Guide Dogs for the Blind campus to begin its formal guide-dog training.
Guide Dogs for the Blind
As with so many worthwhile endeavors, Guide Dogs for the Blind began in response to a critical need. In the spring of 1942, founders Lois Merrihew and Don Donaldson recognized that many service members were returning from World War II with visual impairments. Although select guide-dog schools existed on the East Coast, there wasn’t anything available on the West Coast. The duo decided to open a campus in San Francisco where not only would the best and brightest pups train to become guide dogs, but their owners would be welcomed and shown how to use their companions to lead a more fulfilling life.
More than 70 years later, the school has graduated more than 10,000 teams of guide dogs and their human masters from its training programs. The school has also expanded considerably in terms of physical size, encompassing both an 11-acre main campus in San Rafael, California, as well as a campus in Boring, Oregon, that opened in 1995. At each location, labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and crosses of the two breeds train from an early age under the tutelage of licensed instructors, who impart all of the necessary skills to help visually impaired owners navigate daily life.