Well, September has arrived and it seems that a lot goes on at this time of year! September marks a whole new year for school folks. Kids and teachers. There’s Labor Day, football, and birthdays at our house. This is the month to celebrate lots of good things. Like Chickens!!?? Did you know that September is National Chicken Month? Now you do! It’s also National Library Card Sign-Up Month. And best of all – it’s National Guide Dog Month.
Guide Dogs, or Seeing Eye Dogs, are dogs specifically trained to assist a blind or visually impaired person in navigating through their world. They become that person’s “eyes”. The dog takes instructions from the human, but must watch out for obstacles and dangers in the path. They alert to steps and doors. They help find things – like doors and stairs and bathrooms and chairs. Guide dogs must be alert and vigilant in their job. Never reach out to pet a Guide Dog or interfere with their work.
National Guide Dog Month was established in 2008 as a fundraising event to help non-profit guide dog organizations that are accredited by the International Guide Dog Federation. There are a number of these organizations throughout the country. You can see a list of qualifying Guide Dog schools at the Guide Dog Users, Inc. website here.
I, myself, and my buddy Walker were born at Southeastern Guide Dogs in Florida. Most all working Guide Dogs are bred by and born at an accredited Guide Dog school. As puppies they are usually placed with volunteer puppy raisers who keep them for about a year to a year and a half. It is the puppy raiser’s job to socialize the pup and teach us good house manners. We wear some kind of jacket or cape to identify us as pups in training and this allows us to go lots of places. After our time with our families we go back to our place of birth for work training. Ideally, after 6-8 months we get placed with a blind person and become their companion for the rest of our lives. It’s a lot of transition! Some dogs don’t handle all that moving around very well. Only about 50% of pups actually become working guides. And it’s been said that by that time, a guide dog is worth about $45,000.00! And the blind person doesn’t have to pay for his/her dog. It is a gift to them from the school.
So Guide Dog schools depend on donations. Southeastern Guide Dogs allows supporters to name puppies. I was sponsored by Petco and named after one of their employee’s favorite German Shepherd. You can find out more about Petco and their involvement in National Guide Dog Month here.
I’d like to share with you some pictures of me and Walker from our lives as guide dog pups in training –
And I’ll send you off with a little music video from Southeastern — enjoy!
and go learn more about how you can help!
I wish you JOY during this fine month of September!