Yorktown Heights, New York USA - Guiding Eyes for the Blind, one of the foremost guide dog schools in the country, was
founded in 1954 to enable blind and visually impaired people to achieve greater
independence, freedom through mobility and dignity with the assistance of a trained guide
Located in Yorktown Heights New York, thirty-five miles north of New York City, Guiding
Eyes for the Blind was the first guide dog training school to be accredited by the
National Accreditation Council for Agencies Serving the Blind and Visually Handicapped.
Who we serve . .
To date, Guiding eyes for the Blind has graduated some 6,000 guide dog teams, always
meeting the highest standards of excellence in the type of dog provided and the
Applicants must be at least sixteen years old and legally blind, ambulatory,
self-motivated and able to properly handle and care for a dog. Guiding Eyes for the Blind
was one of the first schools to accept elderly students and legally blind students who
have a degree of residual vision.
Guiding Eyes for the Blind has also taken the lead in developing a
training program for those students with multiple handicaps, such as deafness or
orthopedic problems, in addition to their visual impairment. Our Special Needs
Program gives selected guide dogs additional training designed for a specific student's
unique requirements, such as learning to respond to hand signals as well as vocal
About Our Dogs . .
In 1966, Guiding Eyes for the Blind recognized the need for a "special dog," so
it began breeding its own dogs. Today, Guiding Eyes for the Blind's breeding program
supplies more than 90% of the dogs used by the school.
Through selective breeding, high quality animals have been developed with the
intelligence, temperament, and natural aptitude needed for careers as guide dogs. Labrador
Retrievers are the most common breed used for guide dog work, followed by German Shepherds
and Golden Retrievers.
At seven to ten weeks of age, puppies are placed with pre-screened volunteer foster
families who make at least a year and a half commitment to donating their time,
love to raising a future guide dog under the supervision of Guiding Eyes for the Blind
staff. More than 500 foster families, from Maine to North Carolina, participate in the
puppy raising program.
During this period, in addition to being taught house manners, the dogs are exposed to
a variety of environments that blind individuals might one day frequent, such as offices,
malls, supermarkets, churches, elevators and other public and private settings.
When the puppies are between 14 to 18 months old, they are returned to Guiding Eyes and
evaluated for professional training.
About Our Training . .
During their formal training period, dogs learn to respond intelligently to changes in
their surroundings, and to guide their instructors around high and low obstacles. They are
taught to lead out rather than walk in a heel position, and to stop at all curbs and
stairs, both up and down. Gradually the dogs learn to assume responsibility for the safe
travel of their human partners.
After a minimum of 16 weeks of training and regular evaluations, the dogs are prepared
to be teamed with visually impaired students. Blind students are carefully evaluated on
the basis of their physical abilities and personalities and are then matched with a
compatible dog. In order to meet the individual needs of every applicant, an in depth home
interview is an integral part of our application process. Guide dogs and students meet
each other and are trained together in a one month residential class.
Blind students learn how to get the most mobility and safety from their dogs, beginning
in quiet areas without many obstacles, and gradually progressing into more
such as crowded stores and busy intersections. Training concludes with a visit to New York
City, where teams learn to work on subways, crowded sidewalks, escalators and in modern
Follow Up Services . .
Instructors provide continuous follow up services
to graduates of Guiding Eyes for the Blind in order to provide assistance, suggestions,
and general support as required.
Since the average working life of a guide dog is eight to ten years, Guiding Eyes for
the Blind ensures that all retired dogs are placed into warm, loving homes, often with the
original puppy raiser.
The Costs . .
Although the cost of preparing a blind person and guide dog for their new life together is
nearly $40,000, their is no charge to our students. Basic expenses
include the breeding, puppy raising and dog training programs, veterinary care, the one
month residential class for the blind students and their new companions and lifetime
follow up services to our graduates. Guiding Eyes for the Blind does not receive any
government funding and depends solely on individual, corporate and foundation support.
For information about Guiding Eyes for the Blind, please call or write to:
Guiding Eyes for the Blind
Headquarters and Training Center
611 Granite spring Road
Yorktown Heights, New York 10598
Phone (914) 245-4024
Fax (914) 245-1609