Guide dogs for the visually impaired


Dogs have long been thought of as man’s best friend. They are so loving and supportive of us humans, so it is not surprising that they are the animal of choice when it comes to assisting blind and visually impaired people.

Despite there being rather a lot of them, most of us don’t know a whole lot about guide dogs for the visually impaired, so here are a few facts you may find interesting…

  1. There are more than 4,800 guide dogs for the visually impaired in the United Kingdom alone.
  2. Specialist dog trainers spend around 20 months training up each guide dog. Training starts when the dogs are around seven weeks old.
  3. When guide dogs are seven weeks old, they are sent to live with volunteers until they are between 10 and 12 months old. These volunteers help to train and socialise the dogs ready for their working life.
  4. People of any age can become dog owners. So even if a person goes blind in their 80s, they can have a new companion placed with them to help them navigate the world around them.
  5. Many people think you have to be completely blind to qualify for a guide dog, but this is not the case; visually impaired people can register for a guide dog too.
  6. Guide dog owners receive training too. They are taught the essential commands required by their dog and they learn how to care for their pet too.
  7. Costs are covered by Guide Dogs UK. Owning a dog can be expensive, but Guide Dogs UK make it easy to own an assistance animal by covering the costs of vital equipment and they can also help with the cost of dog food which is available at too. The basic cost of essential equipment is around £75.
  8. Guide dog training in the UK first started way back in 1931. The first guide dogs were trained in Cheshire.
  9. The full cost of supporting a dog for the visually impaired from their birth until the day they retire is approximately £50,000
  10. Most guide dogs work for six or seven years of their life.
  11. Everything from the height of the owner to how fast they walk and the kind of lifestyle they lead is taken into account when matching a dog and owner.
  12. Golden Retriever crosses make up 56 percent of all working guide dogs. A further 28 percent are labradors and five percent are german Shepherds. A small percentage (1 percent) are crossbreeds.
  13. When they retire, guide dogs often stay living with their owners, who love them just like any other pet. If that is not possible for whatever reason, they sometimes go to live with a friend of the owner or back to the person who raised them. There is also a huge list of people looking to adopt ex guide dogs, so there is absolutely no reason to worry that they will not be well looked after in their twilight years.

Guide dogs do an amazing job. Support them if you can!

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