International Guide Dog Day
Today, April 25th , is International Guide Dog Day. This is a day to recognize the importance of guide dogs and how they help children and adults every day who are blind or visually impaired. Guide dogs are expertly trained to avoid obstacles, access public transportation, cross roads safely, and other tasks that help their handlers with specific daily tasks in living independently.
International Guide Dog Day not only honors guide dogs but the people who dedicate their time and talents to train and match dogs with their owners.
Guide Dogs of America empowers people who are blind and visually impaired to live with increased independence, confidence, and mobility by providing expertly matched guide dog partners.
Never Pet A Guide Dog
Guide dogs and other assistance dogs are working dogs. “May I pet your dog” is a question service dog owners often hear. This is how we’ve trained children and adults to always ask first. With a guide or service dog, don’t ask, ignore the dog.
In order not to distract the dog, please NO:
- talking to
- saying his/her name
- eye contact
- action in the attempt to get the dog’s attention
The full-time job of these dogs is to keep their owners safe. Distracted service dogs are unable to do their job. This can cause a dog to be distracted for a few moments or it can through them off their game for the whole day. This puts owners and dog in jeopardy.
Types of Service Dogs
Orvis created an infographic that helps to answer some of the key questions about what is a real service dog.
Is That a Real Service Dog? Developed by Orvis.
- Guide Dogs sever as their partners eyes.
- Mobility Assistance Dogs provide their partner with balance and stability while walking.
- Medical Alert Dogs warn their partner of an imminent medical situation such as low blood sugar or a seizure.
- Psychiatric Service Dogs perform a specified tasks that directly relates to their partners disability. PTSD dogs calm their owners and may help in the event of a panic attack or flashback.
Ignore service animals. This sounds harsh but it is the right thing to do. Even if they may not look like they are assume they are working.
May types of organizations exist to breed, train, and partner dogs with persons needing a service animal. Canine Companions for Independence, America’s Vet Dogs, and K9s For Warriors are just a few. There is an organization in my home state of Indiana called the Indiana Canine Assistance Network (ICAN).
ICAN trains dogs in a variety of skills to assist children, adolescents, and adults who have physical and or developmental conditions such as autism, diabetes or mobility related issues. The unique aspect of this organization is that puppies are raised by prisoners. This allows ICAN to meet two important needs: provide individuals living with a disability greater independence and a more enriched life and preparing offenders to return to our communities better equipped to successfully reintegrate with their families and obtain a job.
Check out the ICAN story here.
Support Assistance Dogs Every Day
Today and everyday you can support organizations that bring these amazing dogs together with their partners. In addition to volunteering or monetary support you can always improve the safety of handler and dog by not distracting them from their work.