What is a Guide dog?
Guide dogs (commonly referred to as assistant dogs/service dogs) are trained animals that help those who are blind or vision impaired. These special dogs assist the disabled by helping them travel around safely, as well as to help them gain more independence within their lives.
Most guide dogs are Golden Retrievers or Labradors, as these breeds have a large learning capacity, are mentally and emotionally balanced and demonstrate a strong willingness to get tasks done.
As guide dogs will commonly be placed in crowded and overwhelming environments such as busy streets, it is important that the dogs will remain focused and calm in all situations, as if they were to become shy or show aggression they would potentially be putting their owner in danger.
Guide dog Training
Guide dog training is very intense and difficult, meaning that not every dog will be able to pass the test's exceptionally high standards.
When a dog does not pass the training but demonstrates all of the qualities of a great assistant dog, the dog will then be considered for an alternative role, such as joining a therapy program for children with behavioral/emotional issues or an assistant animal for a less handicapped person.
However, sometimes a dog is not suited for a life of assisting others. In this case, a 'forever' home will be found for the dog, where it will live the duration of its life as a pet. Guide dog rehoming is a very important process, and no dog is ever sent to a pound.
Guide Dog Rehoming
At the age of eight-ten years old, a guide dog will begin to lose some of the agility that it once had as a younger dog. Although some dogs would still be capable to go on for a few more years, it is in the best interest of the owner that they retire due to the fact they may not be able to look after their owner as well as they had in the past.
What happens to a guide dog when it retires is something very important, and is not taken lightly at all. Instead of being sent off to the closest pound, there are three options that are considered for guide dog rehoming.
As most owner's and dogs will share an unbreakable bond, some owner's will opt to keep the retired dog as well as receive a new and younger guide dog. For some people looking after two dogs is just too much, especially if they have a physical or mental handicapped.
The second option is having a friend or family member adopt the dog. This enables the dog's previous owner to continue the bond that they share, without the large level of responsibility which comes with looking after two dogs.
The dog's original foster family (the family who helped train the dog) will quite commonly adopt the dog, but anyone is able to take in the dog as long as the dog's health and welfare is their top priority. Guide dog rehoming and what happens to guide dogs when they retire is a very important procedure, with the welfare of the dogs' being the top priority.
Leave Your Comments!
Do you own a dog, or thinking of getting one? Or simply here to learn more first? Leave your comments and questions down below so we can chat!