- Leader Dogs for the Blind
Leader Dogs for the Blind is a
guide dogtraining school located in Rochester, Michigan. It was founded in 1939 by Lions Clubmembers, Charles Nutting, Don Schuur and S.A. Dodge [ [http://www.leaderdog.org/site/PageServer?pagename=AboutLD_z Leader Dogs for the Blind: About Us] ] , as the second guide dog school founded in the U.S.
Much like "seeing-eye dogs" from
The Seeing Eye, Leader Dogs' trained canines are called "leader dogs."
Leader Dog is a non profit organization- all expenses from room and board, to airfare, to the dog itself, are offered free of charge. Applicants, after being accepted into the program, travel to Leader Dogs headquarters and must spend 19-26 days of training with their new dog, after which the dog becomes theirs officially.
, dogs unsuited for the work of their respective programs may be "career changed" to the partner's.
In the summer of 1938, the Uptown Detroit Lions Club members gathered to discuss the future of Dr. Glenn Wheeler, a blind man who had shown interest in obtaining a personal guide dog. They decided to pay all of the expenses for the man and contacted the only school in America at the time for guide dogs, The Seeing Eye. The club was turned down because of the schools policy, which stated that individuals could not be sponsored by clubs or organizations, but that the contributions went into the school as a whole, to be used where needed. This was an initial setback. However, the Lions Club members did find individual trainers of dogs, one in particular named Glen Staines, who trained Doberman Pinchers. He was hired on October 6, 1938 to train as many as four dogs for a price of eight hundred dollars. If students could not be found, then the agreement was terminated, and the Lions Club had to keep two of the dogs. They did find four students: Dr. Wheeler, Earl Morrey, William Joyce, and Paul Brown. After hearing about the cause, the Park Avenue Hotel in downtown Dertroit offered free accommodations for the students learning to handle their dogs. Soon the club needed a name for their mounting project. They had dogs, a trainer, students, and a place to house these students, something they had not even imagined. To find a suitable name, a four-page report was sent out to every single member of Lions International. Over 500 names where sent back as suggestions. "Lions Leader" was the name selected, and printed in the newspapers on December 14, 1938. In February of 1939, all four Doberman Pinchers where placed with their new owners. The club wanted to expand their help beyond the actual club and on April 4, 1939, the "Lion's Leader Dog Foundation" was initiated. To get the new school off of the ground, an actual facility was needed. A small farm in Rochester, Michigan was selected. On the property was a house, a barn, and a small garage, which was all rented for fifty dollars a month. The name was changed to "Leader Dog League for the Blind" in 1940 and during the first year eighteen dogs where placed with blind students. Despite many hardships, the school stayed open and was helped tremendously by the number of blind veterans returning from World War II. The blind were requesting dogs for their new lives and businesses began to hire the blind, as it was discovered that many blind could carry on normal jobs, especially with the help of the blind. The United States government eventually promised federal funds to all guide dog schools and these schools began to pop up everywhere around the country. Today, Leader Dogs for the Blind helps pair hundreds of dogs with the visually impaired.
2. Gibbs, Margaret. Leader Dogs for the Blind. Faifax, VA: Denlinger's Publishers, 1982.
The Seeing Eye
List of Guide Dog Schools
* [http://www.leaderdog.org Leader Dogs for the Blind website]
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