International Guide Dogs Day – April 25th
International Guide Dogs Day
April 25th, 2018 is International Guide Dogs Day, a day on which we recognize the many contributions of guide dogs for the blind and those that support them. Without these special companions, many would go without vital assistance each day.
What Are Guide Dogs?
A guide dog has one primary mission – to aid and assist those that are blind or visually impaired. However, they accomplish their mission in many ways. From navigation to companionship, these noble pups devote their lives to supplementing their owner’s independence. The International Guide Dog Federation sets and maintains strict standards for its member organizations to reinforce the proficiency of each guide dog.
History of Guide Dogs
Our relationship with canines dates back far beyond written records, but the first documented effort to train them to aid the visually impaired was around 1780 in Paris. Following WWI, a German doctor by the name of Gerhard Stalling began training dogs in large numbers to assist those veterans with damaged vision. In 1916, he opened the first school for guide dogs in Oldenburg, eventually training up to 600 dogs a year. By the 1930s, guide dog schools had opened all around the globe, improving the lives of more and more people each year.
How You Can Help
You can connect with a local guide dog organization and volunteer in a variety of ways. Many organizations seek volunteers to raise puppies, work on site or as a custodian for breeders, or even provide foster care. Even if there are no volunteer opportunities in your area, we can all take a moment to recognize and appreciate the invaluable service that guide dogs provide.
Below are some of our favorite videos of how guide dogs help change lives!