Dogs not only serve as guards for your house nowadays, some have become full-service animals.
What are these service animals? They’re usually dogs who assist those who have trouble with everyday living, so they can lead more independent lives. They usually cater to the disabled and senior citizens.
Now, you may wonder what a seeing eye dog is. Well, in general, it is a dog, trained by professionals to help people with eye sight impairment. They are trained to guide their partner or owner when traveling, by indicating which way to go and avoiding obstacles. They are, however, not capable of interpreting streetlights, since dogs are to some extent green-red color blind.
Sound interesting? If you have a relative or perhaps a friend who is in need of one, here’s how you apply for a seeing eye dog:
- Look for schools. Ask a friend who has a blind relative or use the Internet to look for seeing eye dog schools and programs. Every school has its own reputation and viewpoints on how to train seeing eye dogs. Be sure to pick one that would match the needs of the person who will be keeping the dog.
- List the client's needs. The blind person’s lifestyle, as well as his style and frequency of traveling can very much determine which school is right for him. When filling out an application, be sure to include this information as well as level of dependency, and his/her capability of taking care of the dog, including the dog’s food and veterinarian fees.
- Waiting period. As your request is processed, there will be a waiting period until the right dog is found or trained.
- Recognition stage. After the wait, your seeing eye dog is finally here. You may be tempted to care for the dog and so on, but it is very important that you keep some distance from the dog and its new owner for the first few months. This is for them to get accustomed to each other and establish responsibilities between one another. Also, it is the visually impaired person’s responsibility to create a bond with his/her dog, therefore all food and affections must come from the visually impaired person.
- Training stage. This phase usually overlaps the recognition stage. The visually impaired person has to “train” with the dog to establish the person’s needs and how the dog should react to them. Expect this to last about a month or so.
The good thing is that most schools give the seeing eye dogs for free, as operations are run by donations. You can even adopt a puppy before it is sent for training, just be sure that you will be able to let them go when the time for their schooling has come. Some veterinarians even waive their charges for service dogs—the owner only needs to pay for the medicine. And most restaurants and malls make exceptions for service animals, in order for them to be able to perform their duty even in those places.