Every dog who helps a blind owner is not necessarily a Seeing Eye dog. The Seeing Eye is a registered trademark for the now famous dog program started in 1929.
Dogs trained in other programs are called guide dogs. Guide Dogs for the Blind is another well known school for dogs and people.
The Seeing Eye program breeds its own dogs – German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers. When they are 8 weeks old, the dogs are placed in the homes of trained volunteers who provide basic training, socialization and lots and lots of love and attention. The dog then goes through another four month course at The Seeing Eye before it is placed with a blind owner.
The dog and the new owner go through 27 days of training together. You can easily see that this is an involved process, and is not as simple as most people think. The Seeing Eye program is not a government program, but is funded by private donations. The cost to the blind person is only $150 which covers the dog, the training, air fare and room and board for the training session. This fee has remained the same since 1934. The $150 can even be broken down into payments, if necessary. You can donate to the Seeing Eye Program online.
Tomorrow I will tell you a little about the Guide Dogs for the Blind program — but before I leave, a quick reminder, if you will —
If you see someone with a Seeing Eye Dog in a restaurant, hospital, shopping mall — do not be surprised or alarmed. The law in all 50 states allows these dogs to accompany their owners. Do not grab the dog, the owner or the dog’s harness. The dog is working. You can ask the owner for permission to pet the dog if you like. The biggest problem for dog owners is interference from the public. Please be aware of this problem and act accordingly.
More tomorrow —