Thursday, March 14, 2013

An Introduction to Guide Dogs

Imagine that you are totally blind in one eye and have only 10% vision in the other.  Now, your friends tell you to meet them at Seat 25, Row B, Section 5 of the baseball stadium.  How confident would you feel about finding that location on your own?  Well, how confident would you feel if you had a guide dog.  It turns out that the answer to the second question is far more confident than for the first question.

The Pet Praise Community celebrates the moments between people and their pets.  Blind and visually impaired persons are a special group to us at Pet Praise because of the special relationship between them.  Guide dogs are usually specially bred for their jobs.   To see how helpful guide dogs can be to the visually impaired, watch the video below.

Southeastern Guide Dogs is one of Pet Praise's favorites for providing guide dogs to the visually impaired.  At Southeastern Guide Dogs, candidate dogs are selected at birth from among Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and the mix of the two called Goldadors.  These dogs have the inborn strength and intelligence to become guide dogs, but only the best of the best are selected for this important canine profession.  The candidate dogs are sent to puppy raisers, where they learn the obedience and socialization skills they will need to go into harness training.  Puppy raisers keep the candidate dogs until they are 14-20 months old.  During the puppy raising period, guide dog candidates learn the critical difference between being "in uniform" for work and being a dog-at-play.

Now comes the final stage of training for the guide dog, the harness training.  This is where all the critical commands are learned and situations are rehearsed.  For instance, the dogs learn the 40 commands they must know while in harness such as:
  • sit
  • forward
  • find the curb
  • find the elevator
  • find the steps
  • find the chair
Also, dogs in harness training learn when to disobey.  The guide dog must have the training to know when to disobey a command that would put their partner in harms way.

At last comes the best part where the harness trained dog meets their new visually impaired partner.  The dog and new partner train together and become a working team. 

To see how the whole program comes together, watch the video below from Southeastern Guide Dogs.

Pet Praise is glad to support such activities as this in our Community of people and pets celebrating special moments together.  One way we support Southeastern Guide Dogs is through our offering of the book, Adventures with Buster, written by London Lake Pickett.  London has retinitis pigmentosa and is a graduate, along with Buster, of Southeastern Guide Dogs.  Adventures with Buster is a very good book for age 10-11 and under to read or have read to them.  It is a great introduction to Guide Dogs.  Purchase this book from Pet Praise and 10% will be returned directly to Southeastern Guide Dogs.


  1. Well done John! Thank you for the work you do! Buster and I look forward to seeing you again soon.

  2. It is a pleasure, London. We want to work with you and Buster to further increase awareness of Guide Dogs and what they do and to help the Southeastern Guide Dog Organization.