The Story Behind International Guide Dog Day

International Guide Dog Day has been held every year on the last Wednesday in April since 1992, honoring guide dogs and the work they do for the blind.

As Bark Post reports, there is evidence dogs have been helping the blind in ancient Rome. Officially, guide dogs are credited to Johann Wilhelm Klein, who founded the Institute for the Education of the Blind in Vienna. Klein detailed his method for training guide dogs in 1819, but Guide Dogs wouldn’t be widely used until about 100 years later.

Guide dogs provide assistance for the blind, veterans, and many others.

Guide dogs provide assistance for the blind, veterans, and many others.

During World War I, many soldiers were returning home blind from poisonous gases. Dr. Gerhard Stalling suggested training mass numbers of dogs to help the men, and in 1916 opened the world’s first guide dog school, the International Guide Dog Federation reports.

Guide dog schools soon spread throughout Germany, providing guide dogs to former service members and blind people throughout the world. Dr. Stalling’s program only lasted as long as the right dogs were available, however, which only proved to be a few years.

Guide dogs became popular after World War I.

Guide dogs became popular after World War I.

According to Vital Pet Life, In the 1920s an American dog trainer named Dorothy Harrison Eustis helped to relaunch the guide dog movement, and trained the first guide dog in the U.S. She later founded the Seeing Eye School in New Jersey.

Today there are guide dog schools  in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Today there are guide dog schools in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Following the lead of these pioneers, there are now guide dog schools in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. These schools help train animals that will change countless lives. You can help advocate for guide dogs by:

  • Learning how guide dogs are trained.
  • Learning about how guide dogs help different people throughout the day.
  • Learning about the different breeds of dogs used as guide dogs.
  • Volunteering for a guide dog organization.
  • Sharing positive stories about guide dogs with the hashtags #internationalGuideDogDay or #GuideDogDay on social media.
  • Taking the International Guide Dog Day Pledge!
    • Take the International Guide Dog Pledge and honor the work of these important animals.

      Take the International Guide Dog Day Pledge and honor the work of these important animals.

      Click below to take the pledge and help us honor the work of guide dogs across the world!

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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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