Thanks to Guide Dog Users, Inc. (GDUI), there is now a quality, accessible reference resource to answer questions for not just the prospective guide dog team, but also the general public.
This concise and informative handbook covers it all, from filling out the first application to learning how to handle the public, grooming, and other responsibilities of being the human part of the team. It is a genuine and accurate reference guide.
When I first explored what it would be like to become a guide dog user, it was like traveling to a strange land full of unfamiliar routines, feelings, nomenclature, and equipment. I wish this handbook had been available back then, but I am so pleased it has finally become a reality to help from this point forward. Thanks to this handbook, much of the mystery of living and working with a guide dog has been explained.
For example, the introduction sets the stage with heartfelt and honest accounts from other guide dog users. The handbook also touches upon each aspect of the partnership, from what to expect while in a residential or home training program to brushing up on some self-advocacy skills.
The handbook also touches upon what a new handler might encounter during training, like just how complicated it is for the dog to transfer its affection from the instructor to the new handler. It is also important for the reader to take note of how much GDUI supports us, especially during those times of access denial, in the wake of disaster, and in those instances of the retirement or death of a beloved canine partner.
In conclusion, this is the perfect manual to support a partnership and path of independence.
Thanks to the hard work and passion of other guide dog handlers, we now have an accessible, well-written, and informative tool to help clarify some of the practical elements of the guide dog training experience. I hope you share it with your family, friends, colleagues, blindness and disability advocacy organizations and, of course, other guide and service dog handlers.
With a hearty "Forward!" —
Ann Chiappetta, M.S., author of Follow Your Dog: A Story of Love and Trust
GDUI Life Member
We provide peer support, advocacy, information, and referral services. Ask about product sales. Harness signs, harness pouches, water bowls, jewelry, and other items are available.
We hope this handbook is informative and instructional. We strive to improve the quality of both canine and human members of guide dog teams. Whether your experience with a guide dog is positive or frustrating, it will make an impact on your life, just as you and that dog make an impression on the world around you.
As an organization, we are here to help. We have trained empathizers who can lend an understanding ear when you need to talk with others who have shared their lives with guide dogs.
A guide dog is more than just a dog. Pet owners love their dogs, too, but they don't entrust their lives to their pet dogs as we do. They don't spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week with their dogs. The bond between partners in a guide dog team can be one of the closest imaginable. Even when we can keep family and friends from knowing when we are sad, lonely, or frightened, our guide dogs learn to read our feelings. They forgive our mistakes, make us laugh, and teach us to find joy in the small things of the moment.
Guide Dog Users, Inc. hosts several email lists for mutual support, for the exchange of information, and as a forum for talking about our guide dogs. You can find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, join a local state affiliate, or become a member. You will receive our national magazine, Pawtracks, and be welcomed into our community of people who live and work with guide dogs.
We encourage you to become a part of our organization and share the trials and triumphs along the path of independence.