Guide dog

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Guide dogs (also called seeing-eye dogs) are assistance dogs trained to lead blind and vision impaired people around obstacles.

Although the dogs can be trained to navigate various obstacles, they are partially (red-green) color blind and are not capable of interpreting street signs. The human half of the guide dog team does the directing, based upon skills acquired through previous mobility training. The handler might be likened to an aircraft's navigator, who must know how to get from one place to another, and the dog is the pilot, who gets them there safely.

In several countries, guide dogs, along with most service and hearing dogs, are exempt from regulations against the presence of animals in places such as restaurants and public transportation.

Contents

History

References to guide dogs date at least as far back as the mid-16th century; the second line of the popular verse alphabet "A was an Archer" is most commonly "B was a Blind-man/Led by a dog"[1] In the 19th century, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, in her verse novel Aurora Leigh, has the title character, in describing her conversation with Lady Waldemar, remark "The blind man walks wherever the dog pulls / And so I answered" (Book V., ll. 1028-9).

The first guide dog training schools were established in Germany during World War I, to enhance the mobility of returning veterans who were blinded in combat. The United States followed suit in 1929 with The Seeing Eye in Nashville, Tennessee (relocated in 1931 to Morristown, New Jersey). One of the founders of The Seeing Eye was America's first guide dog owner, Nashville resident Morris Frank. Frank was trained with Buddy, a German Shepherd, in Switzerland in 1928.

The first guide dogs in Britain were German Shepherds. Three of these first were Judy, Meta, and Folly, who were handed over to their new owners, veterans blinded in World War I, on 6 October 1931. Judy's new owner was Musgrave Frankland. [1]. This was followed, in 1934, by the start of The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association in Great Britain.

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