Tag Archives: seeing eye dogs

Why the World Needs Purebred Dogs


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May 1 is National Purebred Dog Day, a day to appreciate the centuries-old tradition of breeding dogs for specifically valued traits. The day’s founder, Susi Szeremy, writes that each dog breed is “a living legacy of the culture that created it,” and the continuation of purebreds keeps their respective culture’s history alive. While mixed breeds are cool, too, there are good reasons to support purebreds. Read on for the top three reasons why we think the world still needs purebred dogs.

1. They’re predictable.

One big reason why purebreds are valued dogs is their predictability. Because each breed is bred for specific traits, one can expect to find particular physical and behavioral qualities in any one member of the breed. While these traits can vary within individual dogs, you know that if you breed a Chihuahua you’ll be getting a pint-sized pup that fits in your purse, while if you breed a Great Dane, she’ll be even bigger than the Chihuahua the moment she’s born! Moreover, the predictability of purebreds makes them indispensable in the many pup-powered jobs which our communities depend on. In the US alone, ten million people suffer from allergies, many of whom rely on specific allergy-friendly dog breeds to accommodate their health needs. For example, the intelligent and low-shedding Poodle makes a qualified assistant to disabled people with dog allergies. Purebred dogs are our service dogs, police dogs, military dogs and of course, the loving companions that brighten up our homes. They can be specially trained to serve purposes that go above and beyond fetching a bone. Purebred dogs are society’s four-legged superheroes, often trained as early on as birth to fulfill roles such as guiding the blind, sniffing out drugs or explosives in the airport, detecting blood glucose levels in people with diabetes, and the list goes on. Purebred dogs are crucial, irreplaceable members of society who improve the lives of people you know every single day.

2. They help us make scientific advancements.

Purebred dogs help us make advancements in science that enhance our understanding of both humans and other dogs. For example, a recent study discovered a gene found in Dalmatians associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome in dogs. This research not only reveals an important factor of this canine disease, but it may also lead to a breakthrough in research for respiratory disease in humans. This research and others like it would not be possible if not for the uniform traits in purebreds which lend themselves to objective scientific testing.

3. They tell a story of the past.
Each breed tells a unique story form the time and place in history it came from. Perhaps it was the German Shepherd, herding the fields of Germany during the turn of the 20th Century. Or maybe the Yorkshire Terrier, working alongside factory workers during the Industrial Revolution. Each breed has its very own story tell, and believe it or not, these stories are in danger of fading away. There is such a thing as an endangered dog breed, and if it were not for the efforts of responsible breeders, these breeds would not survive.

Breeding purebreds is not just a tradition that provides us with a fun and furry look into the past. Rather, purebred dogs are indispensable to lending a helping hand (or paw) to present day problems such as physical and mental disabilities and health issues. This National Purebred Dog Day, let’s take a moment to look around at the amazing creatures who fill our lives with joy on a daily basis. We hope to have them around for years to come.

Getting to Know Guide Dogs


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Guide dogs, also known as seeing eye dogs, are special pooches that help the blind navigate their world. Guide Dogs of America provides blind and visually impaired people with guide dogs free of charge in North America. Now that deserves a “round of a-paws.” Let’s get to know more about these paw-some pups and how they perform heroic acts every day.

History
The first school for training service animals, including seeing eye dogs, was established in Germany during World War I to assist veterans blinded in war. Outside of Germany, interest in service dogs did not become widespread until the mid-1900’s. The first guide dogs were German Shepherds, appropriately coming from the service dog school’s country of origin. In 1929, Nashville resident Morris Frank succeeded in convincing Americans to grant people with service animals access to public transportation, hotels and other open public areas. By Federal law, blind people with service dogs are now allowed to go anywhere the general public is allowed, including restaurants, hospitals, stores, airplanes and taxis.

Breeds
The dog breeds used in guide dog service are chosen for their easy trainability and sound temperaments. The most common breeds selected as guide dogs are Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds, but other breeds have also been known to be good choices, such as Labradoodles, Standard Poodles, Collies, Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Havanese and Vizslas.

Training
Many guide dogs are trained from birth for the special task of aiding the visually impaired. Dogs who start training at birth take about 18 months to complete their program (DGP for Pets). Just like all domesticated dogs, guide dogs must first learn housetraining and basic obedience before receiving additional guide dog training. After about one year, the guide dog meets her partner and they train together for two weeks.

The guide dog recipient is just as responsible in training as the dog. It is the responsibility of the visually impaired person to use his or her senses to judge whether or not it is safe to cross the street, for example, but the guide dog may refute the action if she deems it hazardous. The dog’s intentional refusal of a command is called “intelligent disobedience.”

Meeting a Working Guide Dog Team

If you encounter a visually impaired person with a guide dog, you should treat this person as you would any other stranger on the street and respect boundaries. Do not pet, feed or talk to a guide dog without asking for the owner’s permission first. While they may be irresistibly cute, guide dogs are at work and should not be distracted. After all, the owner depends on his or her guide dog to be vigilant of dangers.

Guide dogs are special service dogs that have helped aid the blind for decades. Their ability to learn techniques above and beyond basic training techniques in order to devotedly assist their partner is truly remarkable. We never cease to be amazed at what dogs can do in our everyday lives.