© Courtesy of Guide Dog Foundation For The Blind and America’s VetDogs
For more than 75 years, The Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind has trained and placed guide dogs and service dogs to provide increased independence and enhanced mobility to individuals who are blind, have low vision, or have other disabilities.
The Guide Dog Foundation pairs each student with the dog that is right for them—and the power of their bond makes ordinary moments extraordinary. Crossing the street independently becomes a moment of liberation. Traveling alone becomes a welcome adventure. Embracing new experiences becomes an everyday occurrence. After his first walk with his new guide dog, a recent Foundation student expressed his feelings in one powerful word when asked what it felt like: “Freedom.”
The Guide Dog Foundation was founded after World War II to provide guide dogs and training at no cost to veterans returning from the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific. With the aging of America’s veterans and as service members return home from current conflicts, the Foundation recognized there would be a greater need for guide dogs and specialized service dogs to help these disabled veterans live again in dignity and independence.
America’s VetDogs was created by the Guide Dog Foundation in 2003 to provide assistance dogs to America’s wounded veterans to help them return to a life without boundaries. In 2006, it became a separate 501(c)(3) corporation; the two sister organizations continue to share staff and other resources to ensure people with disabilities receive the best services possible.
The service dog programs of America’s VetDogs were created to provide enhanced mobility and renewed independence to United States veterans, active-duty service members, and first responders with disabilities, allowing them to live with pride and self-reliance. America’s VetDogs trains and places service dogs for those with physical disabilities; guide dogs for individuals who are blind or have low vision; service dogs to mitigate the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder; hearing dogs; and facility dogs as part of the rehabilitation process in military and VA hospitals.
To inspire volunteerism and help educate the public about guide and service dogs, the organization’s Puppy with a Purpose® program offers a powerful opportunity for the business community to support its mission. Partners volunteer to help co-raise an eight to ten-week-old future guide or service dog puppy, teach them good house manners and basic obedience as well as socialize them out in the public, until the puppy is between 14 and 16 months old. The puppy then returns to Guide Dog Foundation and America’s VetDogs to continue formal training as an assistance dog.
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