Guide dogs do a great deal for their owners. Not only do they help guide their owners throughout the day, but they also protect them from harm, assist them with tasks, and provide consistent emotional support like no other. Guide dog trainers work hard to help these loyal partners to hone these skills.
These dogs are seen by many as a joy that makes the world a better place for their owners and their families. And International Guide Dog Day aims to help others show appreciation for the hard work they do.
So get ready to learn a bit about and celebrate International Guide Dog Day!
History of International Guide Dog Day
Guide dogs may have been around since 79 AD, a fact which was discovered when paintings of guide dogs being used to help the blind were uncovered on the excavations in Pompeii, Italy.
Guide dogs have been used in various countries throughout the centuries, such as ancient China and medieval Europe. During the 1700s and 1800s, historians and anthropologists seem to have encountered more observations of guide dogs through children’s nursery rhymes and stories.
However, even though they had been used in previous times, it wasn’t until the mid-1800s that some of the first legislation recognizing guide dogs started to appear. One such activity was noted in 1838, when the British Parliament exempted license fees for “shepherds’ dogs and “those kept by the blind as guides.” This type of legislation encourages those who keep dogs that help them with their work or with disabilities.
The early 1900s began the organized training of guide dogs for blind people, and in 1934, the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association was established in the United Kingdom.
People who lived in the era of WWII saw extensive use for these kinds of helping dogs, specifically for veterans who had lost their sight in the midst of war due to chemical related injuries. And although communities have made much progress in the way of guide dogs, many people don’t realize that it wasn’t until 2010, when the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) helped establish legal rules for those with disabilities who are in need of guide dogs.
International Guide Dog Day honors the work that these service dogs provide for people with visual disabilities everywhere. These dogs have skills including leading a blind person around an area, assisting with a hobby, picking up dropped items, providing emotional comfort during their service and much more. This is why guide dogs are some of the best service dogs to have.
Now it’s time to start celebrating International Guide Dog Day!
International Guide Dog Day Timeline
First organized attempts to train guide dogs
At a hospital for the blind in Paris, the first system for training dogs to aid the blind is attempted.
Guide Dog training method is published
Johann Wilhelm Klein writes about using guide dogs to act as helpers for blind people.
First guide dog school is started
As soldiers from WWI come home blinded from poisonous gasses, dogs are trained in mass to help aid the soldiers.
International Guide Dog Federation is established
After several years of organization and conversations, the group begins and is originally named “International Federation of Guide Dog Schools for the Blind” (IFGDSB).
First International Guide Dog Day
In an effort to raise awareness, the day is organized in collaboration with the Guide Dog Foundation, the International Guide Dog Foundation and America’s VetDogs.
How to Celebrate International Guide Dog Day
International Guide Dog Day provides many opportunities to observe and celebrate the day in support of the community that trains and benefits from guide dogs. Try out some of these ideas for celebrating and enjoying the day:
Learn About Guide Dogs
People celebrate International Guide Dog Day by learning how trainers train these dogs and showing support for their trainers. Want to support guide dogs? Begin by learning what the ADA states about guide dogs and what rules surround them in public areas. Educating yourself about these dogs can help prevent accidents and misunderstandings, especially for those disabled.
Here are some interesting facts about Guide Dogs that will make it even more fun to celebrate this day:
- The most common guide dogs breeds are German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers. Sometimes poodles are even used.
- Training and socializing guide dogs begins when they are very young puppies, often when the pups reach about 8 weeks. Some organizations even have their own breeding facilities.
- Don’t pet a working guide dog! While guide dogs are in their harnesses, they are at work and can be distracted if people try to pet them.
Adopt a Former Guide Dog
One great way to celebrate International Guide Dog Day is to consider supporting those dogs who haven’t made it through training by adopting them. This is possible even for people who don’t need their own guide dog but still want a dog to adopt a dog that couldn’t complete their training and give them a new home.
Sometimes dogs get into the training program and can’t quite make it through the program to become a full-fledged guide dog. These are usually gentle dogs that simply had some minor difficulty, but they would make an excellent, well-trained family pet!
Make a Donation to a Guide Dog Organization
Donate money to a local guide dog training organization. Some of the organizations to consider that are well-known and trustworthy are:
- Guide Dog Foundation. Support the Guide Dog training program, by making a donation to the foundation.
- Guide Dogs of America. Supporting those who train and are accompanied by guide dogs, this organization helps not only the visually impaired, but also veterans and those with autism.
- Guiding Eyes for the Blind. This group is passionate about connecting exceptional dogs with individuals to help with greater independence.
- Freedom Guide Dogs. Raising, training and placing successful working guide dogs with the visually impaired.
Share with Family and Friends
One great way to enjoy and celebrate this day is to share this holiday with coworkers and family members and show support for these fantastic dogs. Take some time to raise awareness so that other people will also know about how important this day is and can be supportive also!
International Guide Dog Day FAQs
What is International Guide Dog Day?
This day is meant to raise awareness of the need for guide dogs and to honor these faithful companions as they help people with disabilities.
When is International Guide Dog Day?
International Guide Dog Day takes place on the last Wednesday of April each year.
When did International Guide Dog Day start?
This day began in 1992 and continues to be celebrated each year.
How to celebrate International Guide Dog Day?
Observe this day by showing support for guide dog organizations and learn about training guide dogs.