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Graduate Aerial Gilbert walks along the water with her Guide Dog
  • November 5, 1927: Dorothy Harrison Eustis introduced America to the concept of using dogs as guides for the blind with an article in The Saturday Evening Post.
  • October 21, 1941: Lois Merrihew and Don Donaldson collaborate with D.M. Linnard, the owner of San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel, and the hotel's publicity director, A.S. Oko, to publicize the need for the school with an article in the San Francisco Chronicle. Blondie, a German Shepherd rescued from the Pasadena Humane Society, is pictured in the article. She would later become the guide of Sgt. Leonard Foulk, the first serviceman to graduate from the school.
  • December, 1941: Lois Merrihew and Don Donaldson visited Letterman Army Medical Center in San Francisco's Presidio to offer their services to the American Women's Voluntary Services (AWVS). The AWVS was instrumental in the founding of Guide Dogs for the Blind to aid blinded veterans.
  • May 27, 1942: Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) was incorporated and the first board of directors appointed. AWVS National Representative Mrs. Ryer Nixon became the first board president, and AWVS San Francisco Chairperson Mrs. Nion Tucker joined her as a member. Don Donaldson was named director and Lois Merrihew, his assistant. The school began in a rented Victorian farm house called "Tilted Acres" in Los Gatos, California, with four donated German Shepherds. Nine students received training at this location.
  • June 1, 1942: Graduation for Class 1.
  • 1944: GDB moved to a home in Los Gatos.
  • 1945: GDB collaborated with the California 4-H program to establish the GDB Puppy Raising Program.
  • 1947: The California State Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind was established by the State Legislature to enforce high standards of guide dog training through the licensing of all instructors in the state. Guide Dog Instructor Stewart Wiest, who had trained dogs through the Army K-9 Corps, received license #1. Lois Merrihew received license #2. Lois was also the second director of the school, after Don Donaldson retired.
  • 1947: Board Chair Eloise Heller and volunteer Clarence Pfaffenberger established standards for Guide Dog breeds. Pfaffenberger volunteered for 21 years and is credited with formalizing the puppy testing, puppy raising and breeding programs.
  • 1948: 11-acre campus in San Rafael, California is completed with capacity for eight students.
  • 1949: The 100th team graduated. William F. Johns, former assistant director of the Army K-9 Corps, directed the school for the next 20 years. He also initiated the apprentice program for instructors. His own German Shepherd, Frank of Ledge Acres, became a breeding stock dog, and sired 162 puppies; 73 were used as guides. Carol Simonds, also a veteran of the K-9 Corps, managed the kennels for the next 33 years.
  • 1952: MoZelle Zimmer became chief puppy tester and continued her volunteer efforts for more than 30 years.
  • 1958: Benny Larsen directed the school for 16 years. A former POW in WWII while in the Danish Marines, and later, head of Denmark's canine patrol services, he is credited for staff development, establishing in-home applicant visits and follow-up support services.
  • 1962: Norah Hamilton Straus directed the Board for 15 years. She traveled throughout the country with instructors and dogs, and with internationally known jazz pianist George Shearing and his Guide Dog Lee, giving presentations and creating local fundraising committees.
  • 1967: GDB celebrated its 25th Anniversary. The campus expanded to accommodate 16 students.
  • 1981: With the addition of a second wing to the dormitory, GDB is the first in the nation to offer a dedicated retrain program.
  • 1983: US Council of Guide Dog Schools membership.
  • 1992: The 50th Anniversary is celebrated with a visit to the White House and President George Bush.
  • 1992: An educational program for orientation and mobility specialists is premiered.
  • 1995: The second campus in Boring, Oregon is unveiled. The first Oregon class graduated in October.Black lab puppy sits on some grass.
  • 1995: International Guide Dog Federation membership (San Rafael, CA campus).
  • 1997: Hawaii is opened for access to people using guide dogs through collaborative efforts including GDB.
  • 1998: GDB hosted the first International Guide Dog Federation meeting to take place in North America
  • 2000: International Guide Dog Federation membership (Boring, OR campus).
  • 2001: Research and Development Director Michelle Pouliot unveiled the BEST program (Balanced Educational System of Training Guide Dogs). Pouliot is later credited with the GDB Wheelchair Program, as well as other innovations in training and harness design.
  • September 11, 2001: Graduate Michael Hingson's guide Roselle led him from his office on the 78th floor of the World Trade Center to safety.
  • 2002: GDB graduated the 10,000th team.
  • 2002: 60th Anniversary celebrated with a float in the Tournament of Roses Parade® in Pasadena.
  • 2002: Samsung Guide Dogs in South Korea becomes GDB's sister-school and collaborates in international breeding exchanges.
  • 2004: The GDB Wheelchair Program offered dogs specially trained to assist GDB Alumni using motorized wheelchairs for mobility.
  • 2004: GDB is the first in the nation to launch the K9 Buddy Program, introducing the Guide Dog Lifestyle to blind youth and their families.
  • 2005: Creation of GDB Alumni Association, Nov. 14, 2005.
  • 2005: White House visit with President George W. Bush to honor blinded veterans.
  • 2006: First regional chapters of Guide Dogs' Alumni Association established.

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