National Guide Dog Month is a celebration of the work of guide dogs in the United States as a way to raise awareness, appreciation and support for guide dog schools across the United States. It was established in 2008 as a fundraising drive to benefit non-profit guide dog organizations accredited by the International Guide Dog Federation.
National Guide Dog Month was first inspired by Dick Van Patten, who was impressed by the intelligence and training of guide dogs. During a visit to the campus of the Guide Dogs of the Desert in Palm Springs, California, Van Patten was blindfolded to experience how guide dogs provide assistance and mobility to blind people.
After learning that the costs to raise and train a guide dog exceed $40,000 and can take up to two years, Van Patten was inspired to help raise awareness and money for guide dog schools.
In 2009, National Guide Dog Month was established for the month of May, however in 2010, it was moved to September due to conflicts with other national fundraising drives.
GUIDE DOG ETIQUETTE 101
Did you know that there are 1.3 million blind people in the USA? Every 7 minutes someone in America becomes visually impaired.
Guide Dogs improve the lives of the visually impaired by creating opportunities for life-changing independence and through community outreach and education programs. Guide Dogs provide safe mobility, loving companionship and the “miracle of independence” to the visually impaired.
There are many things you can do that can either help or hinder a guide dog team (handler + guide dog) while they are out in public. Here are some expert tips from three excellent guide dog organizations.
Guide Dog Interaction Tips
- Petting – As tempting as it may be to pet a Guide Dog, remember that this dog is responsible for leading someone who cannot see. The dog should never be distracted from that duty. A person’s safety may depend on their dog’s alertness and concentration.
- Talking to the Handler – Before asking a question of a person handling a dog, allow them to complete the task at hand.
- Walking Nearby – Don’t walk on the dog’s left side as he may become distracted or confused. It’s best to walk on the owner’s right side but several paces behind him.
- Offering Assistance – Don’t attempt to grab or steer the person while the dog is guiding him or attempt to hold the dog’s harness. Ask if the owner needs your assistance and, if so, offer your left arm.
- Feeding Guide Dogs – Don’t give the dog table scraps. Respect the master’s need to give the dog a balanced diet and maintain its good habits.
- Interacting With Your Dog – Do Not allow your dog, while on a leash, to interact with a guide dog. The blind person depends on their dog to guide them safely and any distraction can endanger them.
Portions of this article were originally published at petcoscoop.com and wikipedia.org