Guide dogs, sometimes referred to as Seeing Eye dogs, have been in existence for a very long time. The first time that guide dogs were officially referred to as such was after WWI, when a formal guide dog program was actually developed.
The program began in Germany but did not fare well and ended shortly after it began. An American woman who was living in Switzerland at the time, heard about the program and brought the idea home to the U.S. where she thought to train her own dogs. Not until Morris Frank, a young blind man from Nashville, Tennessee, heard about her idea through her article published in the Saturday Evening Post on November 5th, 1927, did the thought actually take root.
Thanks to Dorothy Harrison Eustis, guide dogs are now trained both in the United States and abroad for those that are blind to have a companion to be their eyes. One such organization is KNGF Geleidehonden or what is otherwise referred to as The Royal Dutch Guide Dog Foundation (TRDGDF).
TRDGDF has been in existence since 1935; the oldest, largest and best-known guide dog school in the Netherlands. It was established in 1935 and has trained over 5,000 guide dogs all over the country. They are an accredited member of the International Guide Dog Federation; meaning that they comply with operational standards that must be adhered to in order to qualify.
In order to meet the demands, they staff over 70 employees, have more than 500 volunteers, and 45,000 donors in addition to several key sponsors. They train not only Seeing Eye dogs, but also train specialty dogs for people with other major disabilities.
Recently that began airing a commercial that has been named “The Best Commercial” in the Netherlands. From this perspective, it is easy to see just how important these trained canines can be to someone that needs their eyes to help them see. The dogs are a tribute to many soldiers that have risked life and limb in order to save others and their countries from the devastation of war. They are paid back with lifelong injuries.
Thankfully there are trained dogs that can help ease the pain that these soldiers endure – whether physical or emotional or both. The dogs become the other half of these brave men and women. The dogs help to bring some ‘normalcy’ back into their lives.
There are organizations like The Royal Dutch Guide Dog Foundation in America, too. If only they advertized, perhaps more attention would be drawn to the great works within those organizations, too. Maybe with this article the idea will take root. The more we know, the more we can help with even the smallest of efforts!