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Two young girls pictured with their career change dogsBecoming a Guide Dog takes a very special combination of health, skill and behavioral soundness. Our standards are extremely high, and not all dogs are cut out for it. Some of our dogs go on to have careers as breeder dogs, K9 Buddies for blind youth, or special community canines that assist people in various ways. Those that don't quite qualify as Guide Dogs or go on to alternate jobs we call "career change" dogs. In most cases, career change dogs are adopted by their puppy raisers. Others may go on to work in search and rescue, hearing or service dog training, agility, cancer detection, or pet therapy.

The dogs released from GDB's program to become pets or companions are placed in adoptive homes in the ten western states - Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington. Most of the dogs are between one and two years old, and can be any of our breeds: Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Lab/Golden crosses. The regular adoption fee for these dogs is $750.

The reasons the dogs are dropped from our programs are generally two-fold:

  • Medical reasons (40%): anything from allergies to cataracts to varying severities of dysplasia (hip and elbow).
  • Behavioral reasons (60%): high activity level, incompatibility with cats or other dogs, assertiveness requiring strong handler leadership. Some of these dogs may not be suitable for homes with young children or other pets.

A career change dog in a boat.Because we receive many more applications for adoption than we have dogs available, our selection process is based on suitability rather than on a first-come, first-served basis. Dogs are matched in consideration of the needs of both the dog and the potential adopting home. Interested adopters and their families must be willing to travel, at their own expense, to either our San Rafael, California, or Boring, Oregon, campus within a week of being notified by our Dog Placement office that a potentially suitable dog is available.

Applicants not selected for adoption consideration will be notified by letter. Obedience and agility competitors, search and rescue trainers, tracking enthusiasts and others in dog-related fields are encouraged to apply!

None of these dogs may be used as working guides for the visually impaired, nor have they been trained to perform tasks for persons with other special needs.

Learn More:

Responsible pet ownership
Suggested book/video list for dog adopters