The Seeing Eye

Did you know that the first “Service Dog” organization, The Seeing Eye, in the United States, was established right here in Nashville? How great is that? They did later move to Morristown, NJ and are still there today.

Eighty-eight years ago, Mr. Morris Frank, who was blind, had read an article about dogs being trained as guides for the blind veterans, from World War I. He contacted Ms. Dorothy Harrison Eustis, who had been training German Shepherd police dogs in Switzerland and she had agreed to help him. Feeling confident about the training he and his dog, Buddy, received, they headed to New York City, to prove that Buddy was capable to maneuver Morris through the crowded streets.

Since “The Seeing Eye” has been established:
– They have matched more then 16,000 dogs with loving partners
– 500 puppies are born into the groups breeding program every year
– 3/4 of the dogs that begin their training, successfully complete it
– The dogs work an average of 8 years before they enjoy a well earned retirement

Of course stories like this just warm my heart!

When I heard about this organization, I was reminded of a gentleman by the name of Scott, that I used to work with at an insurance company many years ago. I didn’t know him really well because we didn’t work in the same department. He was legally blind and had a guide dog, a yellow lab, I don’t recall what the pups name was. Scott had been hired to work on our website and other software to make sure that it was accessible for the visually impaired.

Scott and the lab had been together for several years and you could tell by how he maneuvered Scott when they walked. It was really incredible to watch and you could see that they both completely trusted each other.

A few of years later, I noticed that Scott had a new pup. This one was a black lab, he had a little more pep in his step, although, he needed a little more training than his predecessor! Scott, was so patient with him, though. It really helped that Scott was familiar with this large company, so he could almost assist the pup when they ventured the wrong way. In fact, on at least one occasion, I found them on the elevator, needing some assistance. Apparently they had not gotten off at the right floor and ended up at the wrong desk. I’m not really sure if that would have been the pups fault though! 🙂

The pup would also try and nab some “stray” food that might have been too close to the edge of lunch table when walking by in the cafeteria. It was quite comical at times, but Scott would correct him and then they would move on.

The maneuvering around things was not as smooth as the yellow lab had been, but it was a new relationship. They would be fine!

I did ask Scott one time about the yellow lab, thinking that he probably had died. Thankfully, he was enjoying retirement at their home. Hopefully, the old lab was taking the newbie under his wing and doing some training as well!

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