This year, we hope to support another individual living with sight impairments, by donating to the Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind throughout the holiday season. Whether you are coming in for a photo with Santa and your pet, or just want to come in and support, 100% of your donations go to help train pups through Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind training.
Since we were amazed at learning about the extensive process that goes into training a pup to become a guide dog, we thought you would like to hear how it works too.
Continue reading below for the details, and thank you for your continued support.
A LITTLE HISTORY Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind has trained and provided guide dogs to Canadians who are blind or visually impaired since 1984. In 2016, Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind reached a milestone of graduate number 800. Their services are provided across the country, and their guide dogs are working for handlers in every province and territory across the country. At an average investment of $40,000 per guide dog, Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind graduate 24-30 guide dog teams annually.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO TRAIN A DOG? Training a guide dog is a lengthy and time-consuming process involving direct interaction between trainer and dog. Unfortunately, there are no short cuts to producing guide dogs, thus it takes almost two years from the birth of a puppy before it can be considered to be a fully trained guide dog.
ARE THERE PREFERRED SPECIFIC BREEDS? The most common breeds used are Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers due to their established intelligence and normally passive nature. Although the above breeds are the most common you can see other breeds of dogs also guiding their handlers around.
SO, HOW DOES IT WORK EXACTLY? The process of training begins with the pups being taken from their litter box at 7 weeks of age and lodged with foster families until they are approximately 14-18 months of age. During this period, they are treated as family pets but are exposed to shopping centres, libraries, stores, city streets, buses, cars and people. The aim is to completely socialize the pup in the environment where it will probably live with its future master. The next stage of its training lasts for six to eight months during which professional instructors teach the dog to walk in harness and to avoid obstacles as well as to indicate to its future master how to navigate a safe route to destinations. The final stage of training lasts one month when the trained dog is introduced to its new partner and they eat, sleep and work together, building trust and confidence in each other. The visually-impaired person and new guide dog live and work together for 25 days visiting almost every kind of environment they might encounter in the years ahead.
DOES THE USER PAY?
When the team graduates from the training program, the client pays $1.00 to Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind for the use of his/her guide dog over what is generally a period of nine years. Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind maintains an
aftercare service, which entails visits by their training staff to the client’s home to ensure the dog is performing to an acceptable standard.