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Co-founders Don Donaldson and Lois Merrihew work with a Guide.It all began with a dream—the dream of creating the first guide dog training school on the West Coast. It was a dream shared by Lois Merrihew and Don Donaldson who volunteered their efforts along with many others. They recognized the need to help wounded servicemen who would return from World War II without their sight. They believed in the potential of dogs to serve as guides for the blind.

Merrihew and Donaldson incorporated our school in May of 1942 and began instruction of students in a rented home in Los Gatos, California (south of San Jose). A German Shepherd named Blondie who had been rescued from a Pasadena dog pound, was one of the first dogs trained. She was later paired with Sgt. Leonard Foulk, the first serviceman to graduate from the new school.

In 1947, Guide Dogs moved to our present location in San Rafael, California, about 20 miles north of San Francisco. In order to meet the increasing demands for our services, we opened a second campus in Boring, Oregon (25 miles east of Portland), in the Fall of 1995. The first class of students graduated from the Pacific Northwest campus in October of that year.

Learn More:

Check out our historical timeline
See some of our frequently asked questions
Read co-founder Lois Merrihew's story

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