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Friday, November 08, 2013

Guide Dog Training: Expensive But Oh So Important.

Photo of Igloo, guide dog in training, courtesy of Andrew Sullivan for The New York Times

Today, The Times included a special section on charities ('tis the season to give, you know), and their front page story noted the incredible expense of breeding, raising, training and matching a guide dog  to a person with limited or no vision. "One guide dog takes about two years to train and costs a total of $45,000-$60,000...and about 45% of the dogs bred by the schools do not make the grade. Those that do are provided free to people who need them."

But the article also discusses the culture of giving, and how these non-profits have to position themselves for donations among the nearly 1.6 million non-profits active today. The high cost, large failure rate and somewhat small number of people helped by guide dog organizations should be balanced with the incredible impact each dog makes in a blind person's life, the author says. And these days, guide dog organizations don't lack for people who can use the well-trained dogs who don't make the initial cut: Police work, and other types of service work , including partnering with veterans with post traumatic stress disorder are often the new work environment for that 45% who can't be paired with a blind person. In fact, former representative Gabrielle Giffords uses a dog trained through one of these programs to help with balance.

And lets not forget about those valiant souls who socialize and train these dogs from young pups into their first full year, and then relinquish them, often amid tears, to do the work they trained them to do. We featured a gal, Belinda who raises these pups, and her then dog-in-training, Nonna for the Southeastern Guide School a few years back, and couldn't believe we had the good fortune to chat with her!

When you make your annual charitable giving, we hope you consider one of the organizations mentioned in this article, or another that helps train dogs to help humans function at their full potential. Meanwhile, enjoy this slideshow of some of the guide dog organizations, their wonderful dogs and the humans they help.


Unknown said...

We salute all those who help train dogs for the blind and yes it must be so hard to let them go. Have super Saturday.
Best wishes Molly

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