This post was most recently updated on June 29th, 2018
What an advertisement for a guide dog’s job would probably look like:
Hey there, boy! Hey! Do you want to be a guide dog? Would you like to receive access to locations that would ban most other dogs, possibly travel and become recognised in other countries for your good work, and receive the personal satisfaction that you’re providing an invaluable service to a sight-impaired human who will become your master?
Good boy, I knew you’d leap at the chance! I hope you’re not too old, we’re looking for puppies only, not more than eight weeks of age! This is a lifelong career, and we want you to be ready for it from the beginning. Also, we don’t want dogs who have a tendency to chase cats or get distracted easily. The ideal guide dog is smart, attentive, focused, eager to learn new things, sensitive to sound and touch, and in the prime of health.
Prepare yourself for some rigorous training, courtesy of the guide-dog schooling program, which is especially rigorous compared to typical obedience school lessons. You’re not just being trained to be a good dog, but one who can successfully navigate through the human world without the benefit of a master whose lead you can follow. In fact, you’ll be doing the leading every day, which is a daunting but impressive task.
Some of things you’ll learn are being able to maintain a steady pace with your handler, turning, moving forward and stopping on command, and helping your handler get on and off of public transportation. You’ll also be able to decipher some simple words in human language, which you’ll recognise as directions to help you know how best to assist your handler. You will get to know what a lift is, what obstacles to avoid on your daily route, and how to block out any distractions from your regimen.
One of the most important things you’ll learn is how to disobey, yes, disobey in special circumstances, such as when your handler tells you to advance and following him would put him in danger. Certainly, no average dog can be expected to make such complex decisions on a daily basis, so we only choose from the best, and only the best of the best graduate to become full-fledged guide dogs.
Hey boy, don’t look so glum, there’s plenty of fun to be had as well! When the harness comes off at day’s end, you can bask in the pleasure of being a pet dog just like any other, and enjoy the adoration of your handler and other humans around who recognise your invaluable role.
What are you waiting for? Become a part of our elite brotherhood today!
Humans, we could use your help too. Click here to discover how to join our guide dog sponsorship program.