If you're interested in exploring getting a Guide Dog, you've come to the right place. It's a serious lifestyle choice that goes beyond mobility, which is why, at Guide Dogs for the Blind, we're so committed to pairing the right dog with the right person. We will take great care in ensuring that you and your Guide Dog are compatible in every area--from communication styles to personalities. At the end of our personalized training program, you'll find you have not just a mobility partner, but a soul mate, a dog you can trust.
Through our application process, we'll have a chance to learn more about you--your goals, desires and lifestyle. We'll help you understand your responsibilities in preparing for class training and in handling and caring for a Guide Dog. Our expert instructors will work with you to develop a course of training that is most relevant to your needs.
When you're accepted to class, you'll be paired with a Guide Dog specially bred from our own high-quality breeding stock. Most of our dogs are Labrador Retrievers, though occasionally a Golden Retriever or Lab/Golden Cross may be available. You'll train with your dog at your own pace in a variety of environments. A typical day runs from 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and includes formal training, meals, time to care for your dog, and time to socialize with your classmates.
Our two campuses are located in San Rafael, California (near San Francisco) and Boring, Oregon (near Portland). In unique circumstances instruction may occur in an individual's home environment.
We hold two- and three- week classes, with two to three clients per instructor depending on the length of class. You'll enjoy a comfortable single room, eat delicious meals and benefit from an atmosphere that genuinely values the human animal bond. Your transportation, room and board, dog and equipment are offered at no cost to you.
At graduation, you'll have a chance to meet the volunteer puppy raisers that provided a loving home for your dog as a puppy. You can choose to remain in contact with your dog's raisers after you return home.
Our services don't end after graduation. Guide Dogs for the Blind has a team of professionals: peer counselors, instructors, staff veterinarians and regional field staff available for consultation, training advice and hands-on expertise when needed. They can assist you handling family adjustments to your dog, managing your dog's health, resolving training issues or transitioning to a successor dog. Financial assistance to help cover veterinary care costs is also available.
Take some time and explore our website. If you don't find the answers to your questions, pick up the phone and call us, toll free, at 800-295-4050 or email email@example.com. And if you're ready right now to find out if a Guide Dog is right for you, the steps below outline the path to class enrollment.
The steps for obtaining a Guide Dog at Guide Dogs for the Blind are outlined below:
Step 1: You have several options for submitting an application to Guide Dogs:
- Fill out and submit the online student application.
- Print a copy of the application (Word) and mail to Guide Dogs for the Blind Admissions, PO Box 151200 San Rafael, CA 94915.
- Request a paper copy or complete the application over the phone by calling 1-800-295-4050.
Step 2: We will schedule a phone consultation with you after we receive and review your application. This discussion can take an hour or so. To prepare for the phone conversation:
- Be ready to discuss how you travel independently to the destinations listed on your application;
- If you've never partnered with a Guide Dog before, review Is a Guide Dog Right for You?
- Read the Guide Dog User Contract.
During the phone consultation the following topics will be covered:
- Your motivation and support for getting a guide dog;
- Your lifestyle and travel practices;
- Your health status.
You will have the opportunity to ask questions about GDB's program. By the end of the conversation you will have an idea of what supplemental forms are required and how to go about gathering the information necessary to complete the Consent Form (also in Large Print).
Step 3: Once you've had your phone consultation, the following forms may need to be completed:
- Physician's Report to be completed by your primary health care physician including a TB test or chest x-ray
- Ophthalmologist's Report (required for all first-time applicants)
- Orientation and Mobility Professional's Report (required if you have received Orientation & Mobility training in the past five years)
- Agency Representative's Report (required if you have received rehabilitation training in the past five years)
- Mental Health Report (required if you currently see a psychiatrist, psychologist or other licensed counselor)
If you have experience with other guide dog schools, GDB will likely contact them for additional information.
Step 4: We will schedule a home visit with you once your phone consultation has been completed.
During the home visit the interviewer will assess:
- Your ability to travel independently on a familiar route using your current mobility aid. This route must include street crossings.
- Your physical ability to work with a guide dog.
- The safety of your home and work environments for a guide dog.
- Your ability and willingness to learn and apply techniques for working and caring for a guide dog.
- Any additional factors that would contribute to selecting the best dog for you.
Step 5: When your home visit has been completed and all supplemental forms have been received, we will notify you if your application has been approved.
Step 6: Upon acceptance, we will contact you to schedule a class date and location. An acceptance package and course materials will be sent to you by mail.
Step 7: You arrive for class ready to meet your new canine partner and begin an exciting educational experience!
Still have questions? Pick up the phone and call 1-800-295-4050.