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guide dog

guide dog, a dog trained to lead a blind person. The first school for training such dogs was established by the German government after World War I for the benefit of blinded veterans. Schools now exist in several European countries and the United States, where the pioneer Seeing Eye, Inc., founded by Dorothy Harrison Eustis in 1929 and established near Morristown, N.J., in 1932, is the best known. The master spends about a month at the school training with the already trained dog and is usually charged a nominal fee. Although the German shepherd is by far the most widely used breed for guide-dog work, several other breeds, e.g., the golden retriever, the Labrador retriever, and the Doberman pinscher, have been trained successfully for this work. Approximately 10% of the blind population can use seeing-eye dogs successfully, that fraction including scores of persons who have achieved new independence through their assistance. Applicants may be rejected on the basis of sufficient useful vision, advanced age, poor health, or unsuitable temperament.

See D. Hartwell, Dogs against Darkness (3d ed. 1968); V. B. Scheffer, Seeing Eye (1971).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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