Get ready for a special holiday, just around the corner. International Guide Dogs Day is on April 27th! Guide dogs so deserve the recognition: these hard-working, loyal pups have helped change the lives of millions of people! A vet talks about guide dogs below.
During World War I, Germany was the home of the first schools for training guide dogs. However, Man’s Best Friend may have been working as a guide dog much longer than many people think. In fact, Italian art from 79 CE depicted a blind man being led by a dog! More recently, Fido was mentioned in poetry by Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Fido helps his humans live independently, which reduces their anxiety and stress while improving their overall happiness and well-being. Guide dogs provide invaluable support and assistance in many different ways. Helping their owners navigate busy streets and stores is one of their most crucial duties. They also assist with small tasks, such as fetching things.
Labradors, Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Standard Poodles are the breeds most commonly trained as guide dogs. Recently, there has also been an uptick in guide dogs that are crosses of these breeds, such as the Labradoodle and the Goldador.
Guide dogs are protected by law in many places. They are covered under the Americans With Disabilities Act, and also the Fair Housing Act in the US. By law, they are allowed anywhere their humans can go, with the only exceptions being certain sterile environments, such as hospital wards and laboratories. Canadian laws are very similar, as are laws in many other places, including Mexico, the UK, Australia, and
Guide, Service Or Therapy Dog?
There’s a little confusion about the categories of guide, therapy, and service dogs. The ADA defines service dogs as animals ‘trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.’ So all guide dogs are service dogs. However, not all service dogs are guide dogs: there are also other types of service dogs. Therapy dogs provide emotional support, and are not under the same protections. That said, this same rule of thumb applies to any working dog. You should never pet them, approach them, or interact with them. Let Fido do his work! The only exception is if a dog approaches you: some pups are trained to get help when needed.
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