Of all the guide dog puppies that undergo training, 70% will pass and become official guide dogs. There’s an interesting article in the Forfar Dispatch about what happens to the other 30% of guide dog puppies.
The majority either go back to their puppy walker or go on to become household pets, but a few go on to have successful working lives in other areas.
Nicola Smith is one of the rehoming officers at the Orchardbank training facility. She assesses each dog deemed unsuitable for working as a Guide Dog to see if they would be suitable for another working role.
“The dog supply manager, Logan Anderson, assesses and withdraws dogs from training,” she explained.
“When a dog is withdrawn from training the rehoming officers always assess the dog for another working home, unless it has a health problem.
“Rehoming officers at Guide Dogs have a list of criteria needed for other working homes (police, hearing dogs, support dogs, prison service and so on) so if we think that the dog might be suitable then we will contact the appropriate working home and invite them to come and look at the dog for themselves.
“If suitable, then they take the dog away to start its training for a new career. If the dog is not successful in its new career then it comes back to guide dogs for rehoming.”
So far this year the centre has placed five dogs in working homes.
Two have become service dogs for owners with other disabilities, one has joined the British Transport Police and two have taken up positions with the dog section of Fife Constabulary.
The two Fife dogs, Glade (since renamed Jade) and Wilma, have now been successfully trained for police work; one as a drug detection dog and the other searching for explosives.
Both dogs were withdrawn from training due to being too easily distracted. While this would not be a problem for a sighted handler it would have been unsafe for a guide dog owner.
So if you’ve ever wondered where the police dogs originally come from, now you know. Some of they may have initially trained as guide dogs! Although, as the pass rate for police dogs is even lower than the 70% reported for guide dogs, it’s not a common occurrence, but interesting nonetheless.
If you’re interested, we have a page with more information about rehoming failed guide dogs.