“Dogs are man’s best friend,” so said Frederick II, King of Prussia. He was referring to his Italian greyhound. The phrase, commonly used today, was popularized by its use in a poem by Ogden Nash. For Cody, this phrase is more than just a phrase. His dog is more than his best friends. It is also an assistant, caregiver, companion, and family member. For, you see, Cody, is blind.
September is National Guide Dog Awareness Month! Beginning in 2008, the month of September is dedicated to raising awareness and funding for accredited guide dog organizations.
It is estimated that there are approximately 10,000 individuals in the United States who use the services of a guide dog. Guide dogs are most commonly associated with blind or visually impaired individuals, however only about two percent of visually impaired individuals use guide dogs. Guide dogs specifically refer to dogs used by the visually impaired. However, service dogs are used by many individuals with a variety of disabilities.
By using a guide dog, Cody has found it easier to get around in public areas. It has given him confidence to do more activities by himself and even try new activities! Just last week, he felt confident enough to walk to a local ice cream shop by himself! Something he never would have attempted prior to owning a guide dog. He has even found that his dog encourages people to approach and talk to him.
But there is one thing of which Cody has to be aware: people thinking that his guide dog is a pet. Many people fail to recognize that a guide dog, when guiding, is working. Just like you do! Petting, or in any way attracting the attention of a guide dog can place both the dog and owner in danger. Cody’s dog loves attention and Cody is happy to let people pet his dog, so long as the dog is not working! If you wish to pet a guide dog, or any service animal, ask first! And walk away if the answer is no!
This month, National Guide Dog Awareness Month, increase your knowledge about guide dogs and other service animals. If you have children, educate them about proper behavior around such animals. Perhaps go to a training facility and let them see the important work guide dogs and other service animals perform. What you learn can help others!
For more information regarding how your financial support can help, please click here.