Guide Dogs for the Blind
Guide Dogs for the Blind is a guide dog school located in the United States, with campuses in San Rafael, California, and Boring, Oregon. It was founded in 1942 to help veterans who had been blinded in World War II.
Established in 1942, Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) is the largest Guide Dog school in the US. Services are provided to students from the United States and Canada at no cost to them. GDB is headquartered in San Rafael, California, with a second campus in Boring, Oregon.
Guide Dogs for the Blind breeds Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Lab/Golden crosses from their own stock, selected for temperament, intelligence and health.
At the end of the puppy raising phase, dogs are recalled and return to one of the Guide Dog campuses, either directly by the raisers or via the GDB Puppy Truck. If the dogs have not already been neutered or spayed, they are screened as potential breeders before going into formal training. GDB also sometimes exchanges breeders with other schools both nationally and internationally to ensure sufficient diversity in the gene pool. Breeders are placed with families who are local to Guide Dog's San Rafael campus.
Puppies are given to volunteer puppy raisers at eight to 12 weeks of age. There are raisers in nine western states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Texas, and Washington) that raise puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. There are currently more than 1,400 puppy raising families in these Western states. The puppy raisers work with these dogs for about one year before returning them to GDB for formal training.
The dogs are recalled for formal training at one of Guide Dogs for the Blind's campuses at approximately 14 months old. Recalled dogs go through formal training, which is an eight-phase program. Any person who is blind or visually impaired desiring enhanced mobility and independence can benefit from the skills a guide dog provides. The person must be legally blind, able to travel independently and suited to work with a dog. Typically, six-eight students take part in each of GDB's 2-week training classes.
Career change dogs
Dogs that are not suitable for Guide Dog work due to health, behavior or age issues are dropped from training and are described as "career changed". Around 50% of all dogs that go through the program are career changed. Career changed dogs can be adopted as pets by their puppy raisers. Many dogs also go on to have other careers such as search and rescue dogs, or Dogs for Diabetics. Some career change dogs enter the Guide Dogs for the Blind program "K9 Buddy" or "Community Canines" programs.
K9 Buddies are dogs that are placed with children who are visually impaired as pets, giving the them not only companionship, but the opportunity of learning to care for a dog. This experience helps prepare them for the responsibilities involved with having a guide dog someday. "Community Canines" are dogs placed with blindness professionals and organizations and act as community ambassadors for GDB.
Guide Dogs for the Blind is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization supported entirely by private donations. GDB receives no government funding and there are no costs for indiviuals who receive a guide dog. Donors contribute through general contributions, bequests, grants, memorial and honor donations, charitable remainder trusts and other planned giving options.