The Issue: Guide Dogs Trained to Lead Human Partners
Guide Dogs for the Blind nurtures puppies from birth as they learn to be guide dogs. From their first weeks spent playing with socializers, they age and work with a human partner, completing thousands of hours of training. Every year, more than 850 puppies travel to volunteer homes to begin training. From this group, an average of 350 graduate into guide dogs, which are paired with blind or visually impaired people to aid them in their daily lives.
The Campaign: Transporting Puppies to Be Trained
If 40 people donate $10 to this Grassroots campaign, then Guide Dogs for the Blind can transport two puppies to be trained as guide dogs. Puppy trucks deliver the dogs to volunteer puppy-raising families in nine western states and pick them up again—14 to 18 months later—when they are ready for formal training at Guide Dogs’ facility. Each additional $200 raised will provide transportation for another puppy.
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.