Guide Dogs, formerly known as The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, is a charity that helps the country’s partially-sighted and blind to have a second lease at mobility with the help of trained guide dogs that support them during their day to day life.
The charity provides dogs for qualified individuals. With its funding, it runs four Guide Dog Training Schools in the country. These dogs receive training for over two years before they receive their Guide Dog qualification and can serve up to six and seven years.
Guide Dogs’ furry pals are sometimes rescue dogs in need of a home. In themselves, the dogs also need a purpose in life, something that the charity provides for them.
Mission / Vision
The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association, the charity’s former name, was founded in 1934. German Shepherd breeders Muriel Crooke and Rosamund Bond were working with four dogs named Judy, Flash, Folly, and Meta in 1931. The couple, and the next permanent trainer, Captain Nikolai Liakhoff, found that post-war veterans of the First World War needed company and support, and dogs were plenty in the UK during the time.
After the war in 1956, the organisation expanded. It recruited puppy-walker volunteers, created a breeding program in 1970. Puppy-walkers are still vital to the organisation today because volunteers help the puppies familiriase themselves with everyday life and sounds.
The organisation also supports blindness research and the independence of blind and partially-sighted people through the help of guide dogs.
Roles and Contributions
Guide Dogs has become a household name as a supporter of eye research. Some of the ophthalmic research it has supported since 1990 include Leber’s Congenital Amaurosis, accuracy and efficiency improvement in determining early signs of eye conditions in children through visual fields, and genetic research regarding age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and methods to counteract it.
Aside from eye research, Guide Dogs also prioritises dog-related research. Working with different dog food production companies, animal research laboratories and centres, and other agencies, it focuses on health, welfare, quality of life, dog performance, psychosocial research, and political policy research.
Helping the Blind With Canine Support
Dogs are man’s best friend. Any person who is psychologically shocked learning about their partial or full blindness can lead to chronic depression. Studies have shown that dogs have the capability to uplift the spirits of depressed individuals and show signs of positivity. In line with this, the high intelligence of dogs makes it easy for them to learn to help blind and partially-sighted humans live independently.
Most of the organisation’s guide dogs are specially bred. According to the charity, it has bred over 9,000 puppies since 2011. However, due to their limited personnel capable of boarding and walking puppies during the first stage of their lives as part of their training, they rely on volunteers who willingly take home and take care of the puppies to prepare them for their life in service.
Giving Dogs the Most Valuable Job in the World
Dogs are one of the most intelligent animals in this planet. Specific breeds, such as Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds, are capable of understanding humans, which makes them candidates as excellent service dogs to help lead the blind and partially-sighted to become wholly independent.
This task is a huge but valuable job for any dog. It might also be difficult for the blind or partially-sighted to trust the dog with their navigation. This is what makes the dog’s training, from puppy to service dog, a crucial one. With your help, you can help many blind and partially-sighted in the United Kingdom find independence in their everyday life.
How to Get Involved
Make a Single Donation
You can make a one-off donation through the small cans or the Guide Dogs’ website. A small £5 donation allows the charity to advertise its services and attract volunteers to help them with puppy-walking. The bigger the donation, the better you help the charity provide for the living spaces, food, and training of guide dogs.
Create a Fundraising Event
Sponsor a bake-off, dance-off, or anything that your local community, social circles, or work group would enjoy. If you can have everyone chip in during the event, then you are helping Guide Dogs immensely with your invaluable yet enjoyable work. If you have a fundraising idea, the charity is willing to listen!
Become a Volunteer or Join an Event
If you like running, marathons, cycling, skydiving, or any sports, then you might want to join Guide Dogs’ sponsored events. They may be costly, but your donations are helping blind and partially-sighted individuals all over the United Kingdom find independence in their everyday navigation.
If not, you might want to become a volunteer and take home a cute little puppy with you to train and familiarise with our world. A newborn puppy that is adorable will become a helpful guide dog in the future with your help!
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