When Guiding Eyes graduates leave campus to return home with their new guide dog, it is the end of class – but it is only the beginning of life with their new dog. Guiding Eyes provides each team with extraordinary support and follow-up assistance.
Guiding Eyes makes a commitment to our students when they enter training, and we make a lifelong commitment to our dogs when they begin our program. It is our goal to provide students with not only a loyal and loving companion, but a suitable, safe and effective guide dog. As the team navigates life together, we are here to cheer them on, celebrate their successes, weather the storms with them, and support them through all the inevitable challenges life holds for all of us.
Our graduates return home with their dogs and transition them to a place that is entirely new for the dogs by providing guidance and structure. Our Client Experience Team is available to assist with this transition as new teams return home and take the time needed to acclimate their dogs to a new environment and lifestyle.
Our graduates find success by introducing known routes in a systematic manner, taking time to reinforce important targets like the front door or mailbox. From this, the team can build on positive experiences.
Support for a Guiding Eyes team extends beyond graduation. Graduates are strongly encouraged to utilize the resources which Guiding Eyes has available for them as soon as they are aware of a potential problem or issue. Problems addressed early on often have the most successful outcome.
Guiding Eyes staff works collaboratively with the graduate, in the graduate’s preferred communication format, to problem-solve and develop a plan of action that the graduate is comfortable with and will work for the dog’s needs.
A dedicated hotline is covered by the Client Experience Team for any questions or concerns: (888) 987-2188. We also have Regional GDMIs situated throughout the country who can provide in-person assistance if needed.
Guiding Eyes veterinary staff are available to work in conjunction with graduates’ local veterinarian regarding medical issues. Graduates can receive reimbursement for $500 per year for health-related expenses for their guide dog.
The law guarantees our students the right to have their guide dogs with them everywhere they go that the general public is invited to go. There are, however, certain exceptions to this law. The law does not cover places that the general public is not invited to, such as hospital operating rooms. It does not cover private homes, though it does cover rental properties. The law also says if the guide dog is poorly groomed, disruptive or ill behaved, the team can be asked to leave.
The most common places guide dog users are denied access are restaurants and taxis or car services. Guide dog teams are advised to know their local access laws and have a copy on hand. Guide dog teams who are denied access should stay calm and confident; let the staff and/or manager know that this is a guide dog and all legitimate service dog teams legally have access rights.
The age of retirement from guide work varies considerably for each dog and is completely dependent upon several factors related to the dog’s health, age, and situation. The graduate has first option of adopting the retired guide dog or placing the dog with an approved adopter who is a close friend or family member.
If the graduate chooses not to adopt, the dog returns to Guiding Eyes. The puppy raiser will be contacted to determine their interest in adopting. If the puppy raiser chooses not to adopt the dog, we look for a home from our waiting list of applicants.
The Guiding Eyes for the Blind Graduate Council consists of nine graduates and two advisors who serve three-year terms; new members are elected each spring. Members share a deep commitment to Guiding Eyes and a strong desire to give back to the school.
Among other duties, Graduate Council members assist Guiding Eyes staff in public relations work and in the recruitment of new guide dog users; serve as a liaison between Guiding Eyes staff and the graduates; and provide critical consumer information to the school.