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Guide Dogs

 

To provide the gift of sight or hearing to a person is priceless!

For a blind or vision impaired person, a guide dog can:

  • Enhance work opportunities
  • Encourage an active social life
  • Improve health and fitness
  • Provide assistance in locating destinations
  • Guide the owner around obstacles
  • Offer great companionship

Acquiring a Guide Dog

Applications from blind or visually impaired Romanian residents or citizens are accepted.

Anyone over the age of 16, who is in good general health and whose lifestyle would be enhanced by having a Guide Dog, may apply. Applicants are evaluated on physical condition, mobility, degree of blindness, and general ability to care for and work with a Guide Dog. Applicants are interviewed in their homes and at our Centre by a Guide Dog Mobility Instructor, a Social Worker and an Occupational Therapist and each applicant is evaluated individually. Successful candidates are placed on a waiting list until a suitable Guide Dog is available for them.

Accepted applicants undergo a residential training class to learn how to successfully work and handle their Guide Dog. If you want to apply for a Guide Dog, call us on 021 224 4608 or via the details on our contact page

What Everyone Should Know About Guide Dogs for the Blind

A working Guide Dog provides mobility and independence to the visually-impaired user.

A Guide Dog is not a pet dog when it is working; therefore, other people must not distract the Guide Dog. Guide dogs wear harnesses when working, and upon seeing this, the public should first ask the user for permission before touching or distracting the Guide Dog. To distract a working Guide Dog in any way means the animal cannot concentrate fully on avoiding potentially dangerous situations.

Some of the qualities required to make a good Guide Dog are: a quiet and calm disposition, a high level of initiative, a high level of concentration while working as well as a high level of willingness to work and a strong desire to please the user.

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In our Guide Dogs for the Blind programme, puppies of 6-8 weeks of age are placed with foster families, called "puppy walkers", who raise the pups. The puppy walker families socialize the puppies, which are mainly Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers, to as many different, everyday environments as possible. The outdoor socialization begins in quiet residential areas and slowly works up to hospitals, banks, public authority offices, restaurants, shopping malls, public transport, elevators and so on, in principle in any public place where a Blind person might wish go.

Between 12 to 18 months of age, the dogs start its new stage of intensive professional training that will last five to eight months. In the meantime, our multidisciplinary team will select the most appropriate candidate. The dog and its potential partner/user are then matched and are trained together, in residence, as a team.

Guide dogs in general can be recognized by a harness and a handle which is held in the owner's left hand.
Light into Europe Charity, through its fundraising efforts pays for the training, food and veterinary costs for the whole life of each guide dog. The client will receive the guide dog for use for a period of around 7 years, and during this period they are responsible for the care, feeding, welfare and safety of the Guide Dog after they graduate.

In Romania, according to Law 448/2006 regarding the promotion of the rights of people with disabilities, Blind people and their guide dogs should have free access in any public space.

What are the most common breeds of Guide Dogs?
The most common breeds are Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Labradors.
What makes a good Guide Dog?
A high level of willingness to work, a strong desire to please the user. a quiet and calm disposition, a high level of initiative, a low level of distraction from its work and a high level of concentration while working
At what age do the dogs begin their training?
Most dogs begin their formal intensive training between twelve and eighteen months of age.

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How long does it take to train a Guide Dog? 
It varies from dog to dog, the total period is approximately 18 to 24 months.
How long does a blind person train with their dog? 
The training class runs for approximately one month. During this time, the clients spend some time at our Centre while bonding with potential guide dogs and finally at their residence, working on specific routes.
How long does the blind person work with their dog?
Most Guide Dogs work for a period of approximately seven years.
What happens to the Guide Dog when it is retired? 
If the Guide Dog User wishes and is able to keep the retired Guide Dog, he has priority. If however, this is not possible, Light into Europe Charity will find a suitable and loving home for the dog, including considering the original puppy walker family.
Do Guide Dogs watch the traffic lights?
No. The decision and responsibility to cross a road lies solely with the Guide Dog User. The Guide Dog User is taught how and where to cross safely
When can you pet a Guide Dog?
If the dog is in harness, it is working and should not be distracted. The dog may be petted only after permission has been granted by the Guide Dog User.
Does a Guide Dog have time to play?
Yes, when not working, just like a house pet.
Can you give a Guide Dog treats?
No. The Guide Dog is fed only at meal times by his User so that it never learns to scavenge. This also helps to monitor the dog's general health and keep it in very good condition for its work.
How much does the Guide Dog cost the User?
The User signs a contract of use of the Guide dog with Light into Europe Charity. The charity remains responsible for the food, veterinary and training costs, whilst the User is responsible for the care, feeding and the general welfare of the dog.
How is the Guide Dogs for the Blind programme funded?
All Light into Europe Charity services are funded solely from donations and sponsorships from companies, individuals, other foundations and from proceeds raised at events, in Romania and the United Kingdom.