Guide Dogs for the Blind is an amazing organization. Makiko and I graduated from Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) in March 2014.
Guide Dogs for the Blind has existed since 1942. It is the largest guide dog school in the country. One of the items this school is very well-known for is its follow up support and services for graduates. They help with financial assistance for veterinary care, follow up training and troubleshooting, advocacy, and much more.
All of the services provided to the students are at no cost to the handlers. This is just so remarkable because each dog is valued at over $35,000. Can you believe that?! The school is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization, supported entirely by private donors. They do not receive any government funding.
Guide Dogs for the Blind has two facilities. The headquarters is in San Rafael, California, which is about twenty miles north of San Francisco. The other campus (the one we graduated from) is in Boring, Oregon. It is about twenty five miles east of Portland. Each class has about 6 – 8 students and each class lasts 2 weeks. This was one of the things that I really loved about GDB because it allowed me to go back to school and not take much time off for training as some of the other guide dog schools last four weeks.
GDB breeds Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Lab/Golden crosses. They have a purebred stock, which was specially selected for excellent temperament, intelligence, and health.
The handler must be legally blind, able to travel independently, and able to work with and care for a dog.
Another amazing thing about the school is the amazing community of handlers, volunteers (including puppy raisers), and staff. There are thousands of volunteers that help network together for the success of the school and its mission. I have had the chance to volunteer with Lone Star Guide Dog Raisers, a puppy raising club in Dallas. The people that raise these dogs are so selfless, wonderful people. It is an amazing community.