The Benefits of Guide Dogs and the Process of Obtaining Them
If you are 16 or older, legally blind, and have the ability to love and take care of a dog, you may be a candidate for a guiding eyes dog. Guide dogs help blind or visually impaired people get around the world. In most countries, they are allowed anywhere that the public is allowed, so they can help their handlers be any place they might want to go. To do this, a guide dog must know how to: keep on a direct route, ignoring distractions such as smells, other animals and people, maintain a steady pace to the left and just ahead of the handler, stop at all curbs until told to proceed, turn left and right, move forward and stop on command, recognize and avoid obstacles that the handler won’t be able to fit through (narrow passages and overheads), stop at the bottom and top of stairs until told to proceed, bring the handler to elevator buttons, lie quietly when the handler is sitting down, help the handler to board and move around buses, subways, and other forms of public transportation, and finally, to obey a number of verbal commands (Fueoco, 2001).
Additionally, a guide dog must know to disobey any command that would put the handler in danger. This ability, called selective disobedience, is perhaps the most amazing think about guide dogs – that they can balance obedience with their own assessment of the situation. This capacity is extremely important at crosswalks, where the handler and dog must work very closely together to navigate the situation safely. When the team reaches the curb, the dog stops, signaling to the handler that they have reached a crosswalk. Dogs cannot distinguish the color of traffic lights, so the handler must make the decision of when it is safe to proceed across the road. The handler listens to the flow of traffic to figure out when the light has changed and then gives the command, “forward.” If there is no danger, the dog proceeds across the road in a straight line. If there are cars approaching, the dog waits until the danger is gone and then follows the forward command.
In a handler – guide dog team, the guide dog doesn’t lead the handler and the handler doesn’t completely control the guide dog; the two work together t...
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...to the puppy - raisers if they are thinking of one day owning a dog but are unaware of the responsibility that comes along with it. Puppy – raisers are also just doing it out of the goodness of their hearts, which is a great thing, in my eyes. I believe that the process in which these dogs go through is necessary, and extremely important if there is expected success. Success, of course, is the ability of a blind person and dog to work together and live happily. The dog serves as eyes for the owner, and the owner is a companion to a dog that is required to have much socialization during training. It is not difficult to see how wonderful this practice of guide dog training can be, and the substantial benefits that develop once the training is completed.
Fueoco, Linda. “Guide Dog Educates Students, Gives Owner Mobility.” Pet Tales. 1.2 (October 2001). Oct. 2001.
http://www.post - gazette.com/pets/20001025spet.asp
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