People who use Guide Dogs come from all walks of life; their personal stories are varied and interesting. They are stories about people who are facing—and overcoming—challenges. By using Guide Dogs, issues such as mobility and independence are no longer insurmountable challenges to people who are blind. Their go-anywhere, do-anything attitude (and actions!) shatter many stereotypes about the disabled.
However, challenges for Guide Dog users do persist.
Guide Dogs are routinely denied access to transportation, restaurants, and other areas of public accommodation despite laws against such discrimination. Cultural attitudes toward blindness and dogs, misinformation regarding health codes, and personal attitudes all contribute to the problem. It is only through public awareness, attention and education that these issues can be resolved.
Guide Dogs for the Blind would like to put you in touch with people from your community who can tell you about their experiences with Guide Dogs.
You'll be providing a service to your readers by informing them about access laws and etiquette toward service animals. You will also be providing a service to people with vision loss in your community by informing them about free services that are available to them. Please join us in our quest to educate the public about Guide Dogs. Contact the Marketing and Communications Department at (800) 295-4050 for more information.
Please think of GDB as a resource for interesting story ideas, for example:
- Compelling personal stories from people who have lost their sight but have gained a new feeling of enhanced mobility and companionship with their Guide Dogs.
- Personal experiences of volunteer puppy raisers who devote a year and a lot of love to socialize Guide Dog puppies. Half of our raisers are youths. Puppy raising teaches "parenting skills" and leadership, as well as the skills of responsible dog ownership–skills beneficial to all pet owners.
- Puppy deliveries - we deliver our puppies to raisers in the Western states.
- Interviews with expert Guide Dog Instructors who can talk about a unique and meaningful career.
- Who can apply for a Guide Dog?
- Anyone who is legally blind and has a need for assistance with mobility can apply for a Guide Dog. The costs of transportation to and from the school, all training and equipment, the dog, and extensive follow-up services are provided free of charge. We provide services to people throughout the United States and Canada; courses are taught in English.
- Because there are so many ways people become blind—through degenerative diseases like diabetes, retinitis pigmentosa, accidents, congenital conditions, etc.—and because blindness can occur at any stage in life, there is no set way that people learn about the use of Guide Dogs for mobility. Often, they find out only by accident, if at all. Many people believe they need to be totally blind to use a dog, when, in fact, impaired peripheral vision is more likely to be the norm.
Where are Guide Dogs legally allowed?
The Americans with Disabilities Act protects access for Guide Dogs in all public places. This includes offices, stores and restaurants, buses, taxis and airplanes. According to a recent survey, 15 percent of graduates have experienced some form of access discrimination related to their Guide Dog.
These dogs are allowed in public because they have been specially trained to stand, sit or lie quietly when not leading. They are not fed human food and are not fed from the hand, so that they will behave appropriately in restaurants. Their handlers have been trained to keep them groomed daily.
What's the appropriate way to interact with a Guide Dog?
It is tempting for people to want to pet, feed, or otherwise distract a guide dog. Many people who like animals feel that by petting a guide dog, they are sharing a common interest with the person who is blind. They don't realize they could be endangering the safety of the team, or otherwise inconveniencing the blind person who must politely stop and regain control of their dog before they can proceed.
Pet dogs off leash also pose a potential hazard for a working team. At best, the Guide Dog will stop when the loose dog approaches and the blind person be inconvenienced by the interruption in travel. At worst, the loose dog will attack or frighten the Guide Dog, and the guide will need to receive medical care, be retrained or retired.
We have professionals on staff in myriad areas, including: dog training, dog behavior, animal husbandry and genetics, veterinary care, orientation and mobility, fundraising, planned giving, nonprofit management, marketing, public relations, finance, adaptive technology, volunteerism, and many, many more. Contact us if you need an expert opinion or just a different professional point of view.
"GDB 101" - The purpose of GDB 101 is to provide information on blindness and Guide Dog use to teachers and students for the development of curriculum, reports, and projects on blindness and disability. It's available online, or in print by request (call 800-295-4050). Please feel free to promote it to teachers.
We are recruiting volunteer puppy raisers in the Western states. There are extensive on-site volunteer opportunities on both of our campuses.
Professional quality photos are available to accompany stories on request.
We can help you find unique tie-ins to almost any calendar event, for example:
- Valentine's Day (we have furry bundles of love)
- Mother's Day/Father's Day (our breeding stock dogs welcome young pups into the world year-round)
- Volunteer Week (we've got more than 600 campus volunteers with more than 65 volunteer job descriptions)
- Bring Your Child to Work Day (our staff's children get a hands-on look at what we do)
- Graduation (we don't save our graduation ceremonies for June – we have them at least 15 times a year!)
- National Dog Bite Prevention Week (we love to promote responsible pet ownership)
- National Pet Week, Animal Health Week, Be Kind to Animals Week (need we say more?)