South African Guide-Dogs Associaton for the Blind 175 views

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South African Guide-Dogs Associaton for the Blind

For centuries the dog has been a companion and aid to blind people. Throughout the ages, art and literature have placed the dog at the blind person’s side.There is a painting in the Louvre, in Paris, depicting a blind man and his “guide dog” painted by Chardin in the mid 1700’s. There is also a wood-cut by H Nageli done in 1845 of a famous blind traveller, Jacob Birrer, and the small dog he had trained as his guide dog.The original guide dogs were smallish mongrel type dogs, rather terrier-like in appearance. They basically walked ahead of the blind person on a long rope.During World War 1 the Germans trained dogs to carry messages and to perform other specialised tasks. After the Great War (1914 – 1918) the Austrian War Department started to train blinded war veterans with guide dogs. It was not until 1923, in Germany, that any formalised training for blind persons with dogs was established. A training centre was established in Potsdam.A visiting American, Mrs Dorothy Harris Eustis, who was experimenting with intelligence in dogs at her breeding station “Fortunate Fields” in Switzerland realised the potential. It was the enthusiasm of Morris Frank, a blind young American, which inspired Dorothy to train a guide dog for him. The dog was called Buddy.In 1929 Morris and Dorothy established the first Guide Dog School in the USA in Morristown, New Jersey, calling it “The Seeing Eye”. In 1931, the Guide-Dogs for the Blind Association was started in the United Kingdom. Over the years more and more countries have opened their own training centres.

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