That’s right, the 24th April 2019 means only one thing – in our minds at least – and that is International Guide Dog Day! Guide dogs all around the world do amazing work each and every day – it is impossible not to beam with love and respect for those admirable little helpers who devote themselves to making things manageable for those who are without sight.
And that is exactly why there is an International Guide Dog Day, so that everyone can take some time to think about and to celebrate the fantastic work of guide dogs, guide dog trainers and indeed the very special relationship that a guide dog builds up with their best human pals.
What kind of breeds are used for guide dogs?
The predominant breeds for guide dogs tend to be Golden Retrievers, Labradors and Golden Retriever/Labrador crosses. The reason for this is simply because these are the breeds that can be trained the most effectively and they have the best temperament for the role. The kind of temperament which is ideal – and the temperament which these dog breeds exhibit – is one which is gentle so that the owner has complete control, and also happy and willing to go the extra mile.
What do guide dogs do?
What is the role of a guide dog on a day-to-day basis? The most fundamental job of the guide dog is to lead the person who is without sight around any obstacles when they are walking either out and about or indeed indoors or at home. Because those without sight need to be able to have their guide dogs with them in situations where there are potential obstacles around them, which essentially means all of the time.
Can guide dogs go anywhere?
Guide dogs will be allowed to travel along with their owner to places where a normal pet wouldn’t be allowed. This not only includes places such as restaurants or cinemas, but also hospitals, taxis and planes. (And, no, the guide dog is not being lazy by just ordering a taxi, if that is what you are thinking!)
How should I behave around guide dogs?
As has been mentioned above, the guide dog and their owner (or, more accurately, best friend for life!) have a relationship which is unlike a normal relationship between a pet and a pet owner. Although guide dogs love their owner and love to help them get by safely, when they are walking with their owner they are very much at work. This is the main difference between pets and guide dogs and you should never attempt to attract the attention of a guide dog in any way.
They will of course be very well trained, and so – even though we all like to think we are every dog’s secret favourite person in the world! – they will be unlikely to be drawn to anyone around them. With that said though, to be on the safe side, it is best to stick to the rules of not touching, whistling at, feeding or having your own pet interact with a guide dog. And, as much as this may hurt your heart in the moment, you should either refrain from petting a guide dog as this could distract them or seek permission from their owner to find out if you are allowed to stroke their guide dog.