We have all been out running errands, working, or at dinner and encountered a seeing-eye dog with his person. It can be fun to run into a seeing-eye dog in places dogs aren’t normally allowed, and it can be interesting and impressive to watch a seeing-eye dog guide his person safely through the world. There is a lot more to this relationship and the history of these wonderful dogs, and there are also some rules we should know when we come across seeing-eye dogs. Read on to learn more!
13 Fun Facts
- Seeing-eye dogs are specially trained to act as the eyes for their people, who are visually impaired and have trouble or are unable to see the world for themselves. In fact, they become the eyes for the people who need them!
- The dogs who usually make the cut for this important job are Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and German Shepherds. These dogs have the ability to undergo intricate training as well as be calm under pressure.
- World War I was a catalyst for more widespread use of seeing-eye dogs though there were some already being used before this time. This is because many veterans came home from war blinded. The first official school to train seeing-eye dogs was started in Germany.
- In 1928, a man named Morris Frank, from Nashville, TN decided to go across the Atlantic Ocean to Switzerland in order to train with and bring home a German Shepherd seeing-eye dog named Buddy. Buddy was the first seeing-eye dog in America.
- Seeing-eye dogs start training at a young age before they have a chance to pick up bad habits. This is one of the ways that trainers make sure they are able to provide the best seeing-eye dogs to the people who need them.
- Each seeing-eye dog’s potential person must finish training with their dog so they are well bonded. This way both the seeing-eye dog and his person know the correct commands and responses and know if they are a good fit for each other. This whole process takes at least a year, usually.
- Remember that seeing-eye dogs aren’t just a tool their person uses to navigate the world, they are also very loving and dedicated friends!
- When a seeing-eye dog is wearing his harness that means he’s working and his full attention should be focused on what he is doing to help his person. Out of the harness, they are free to have fun!
- We shouldn’t interrupt or pet a seeing-eye dog when he’s at work because it may distract him from his job or prevent him from working as hard. Instead, approach and speak to his person and ask permission to give the dog attention.
- Even if a seeing-eye dog’s person gives the command to cross the street, a trained seeing-eye dog will refuse if it is unsafe.
- If a store or restaurant’s policy does not allow dogs, seeing-eye dogs are still able to go along anywhere his person goes!
- 7-10 years is the normal career span for a seeing-eye dog, and then they inevitably age and they need to retire, just like everyone else. When it’s time to retire, they often go to an adoptive family to live out their golden years, so their visually impaired owner can continue to live a full life with a younger and more able seeing-eye dog. This is probably the most difficult part of the relationship for both the dog and their person.
- Seeing-eye dogs have a day devoted just to them, to celebrating their hard work, dedication and trustworthiness. Today, January 29th, is National Seeing-Eye Dog Day!
Now when we encounter a person and his seeing-eye dog out in the world, we will know the proper etiquette as well as more of the history surrounding these hard-working and intelligent canines!