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National Guide Dog Month
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National Guide Dog Month is a celebration of the work of guide dogs in the United States as a way to raise awareness, appreciation and support for guide dog schools across the United States. It was established in 2008 as a fundraising drive to benefit non-profit guide dog organizations accredited by the International Guide Dog Federation).

  • Celebrated the month of May

History
National Guide Dog Month was first inspired by Dick Van Patten, who was impressed by the intelligence and training of guide dogs. During a visit to the campus of the Guide Dogs of the Desert in Palm Springs, California, Van Patten was blindfolded to experience how guide dogs provide assistance and mobility to blind people.
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After learning that the costs to raise and train a guide dog exceed $40,000 and can take up to two years, Van Patten was inspired to help raise awareness and money for guide dog schools.

Mr Van Patten currently serves as an honorary Board Member for the Guide Dogs of the Desert. Through his pet food company Dick Van Patten's Natural Balance Pet Foods he has underwritten all costs for the promotion of National Guide Dog Month to ensure that all money raised would directly benefit non-profit, accredited guide dog schools in the United States.

In 2008, Van Patten enlisted the support of the Petco Foundation, to organize a fundraising campaign through their retail stores. The San Diego based retailer piloted the first guide dog fundraiser in the Southern California area to benefit the Guide Dogs of the Desert, based in Palm Springs, California. In 2009 National Guide Dog Month was established to benefit the non-profit guide dogs schools accredited by the International Guide Dog Federation.

In 2009, National Guide Dog Month was established for the month of May, however in 2010, it was moved to September due to conflicts with other national fundraising drives.

Beneficiaries

In 2011, the non-profit guide dog schools in the United States listed by IGDF were listed as beneficiaries of National Guide Dog Month. 100% proceeds will be donated to the following guide dog training facilities: · Guide Dogs for the Blind · Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind · Guide Dogs of Texas, Inc. · Guide Dogs of the Desert · Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, Inc. · Southeastern Guide Dogs · Leader Dogs for the Blind · The Seeing Eye, Inc. · Freedom Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc. · Guiding Eyes for the Blind

Use of registered charity

Fundraising for National Guide Dog Month is collected from donors and disbursed by the Petco Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation (#33-0845930) that supports other IRS (Internal Revenue Service) designated non-profit pet related groups. The Petco Foundation is listed and rated by Charity Navigator.

Celebrity spokespersons

The use of celebrity spokespersons to attract media interest has helped National Guide Dog Month gain awareness with American consumers. In 2009 while Paula Abdul appeared as a judge on American Idol blind contestant Scott MacIntyre was presented with a guide dog to represent National Guide Dog Month. In 2010, as spokesperson, Nicollette Sheridan helped raise awareness through various interviews and appearances. In 2010, actress Katrina Bowden made promotional appearances in support of National Guide Dog Month. In 2011, spokespersons Omar Miller and Eva LaRue appeared at a graduation ceremony at the Guide Dogs for the Blind campus in San Rafael, California to honor Dr Cecilia von Beroldingen, with the first annual Change A Life Award. Dr von Beroldingen is a blind scientist who with the use of her guide dog Neoki given to her through the program, has been able to continue her work for the California Department of Justice Criminalistics Institute Forensic Training Facility in Sacramento. Miller and La Rue, who portray CSI investigator characters Natalia Boa Vista and Walter Simmons on the television series CSI: Miami presented von Beroldingen with the inaugural National Guide Dog Change A Life Award, to inaugurate National Guide Dog Month in 2011 as a testament to Cecilia's courage and example of how having a guide dog has enabled her to remain independent.

Proclamations

In May 2009, Governors of multiple states issued proclamations in recognition of National Guide Dog Month, including California, Florida, Arizona, Mississippi, Nebraska and Illinois.
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What are Guide Dogs?

Definition
Guide dogs are assistance dogs trained to lead blind and visually impaired people around obstacles.

Although the dogs can be trained to navigate various obstacles, they are partially (red––green) color blind and are not capable of interpreting street signs. The human half of the guide dog team does the directing, based upon skills acquired through previous mobility training. The handler might be likened to an aircraft's navigator, who must know how to get from one place to another, and the dog is the pilot, who gets them there safely.

In several countries, guide dogs, along with most service and hearing dogs, are exempt from regulations against the presence of animals in places such as restaurants and public transportation.

Breeds

Early on, trainers began to recognize which breeds produced dogs most appropriate for guide work; today, Golden Retrievers, Labradors, and German Shepherds are most likely to be chosen by guide dog facilities, although other breeds, such as Yorkshire Terriers, Standard Poodles, Collies, Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Staffordshire Terriers, Papillons, Vizslas, Dobermans, Rottweilers, Boxers, and Airedale Terriers, may also be selected. Guide dog breeds are chosen in relation to height at the shoulder measured against harness length and an individual's height.

Crosses such as Golden Retriever/Labrador (which are popular due to both breeds' known intelligence, work-ethic, and early maturation) and Labradoodles (Labrador/Poodles bred to provide dogs with less shedding for those with allergies to hair or dander) are also common.
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See Also:

You may also want to research:
  Assistance dog
  Service dog

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