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Admissions Questions


I want a guide dog. How do I get started?

The Admissions Department
800-942-0149 ext. 2222


I don’t live in New York. Can I still apply for your school?

Yes. Students come to our school from across the United States and Canada as well as from other countries.

I have other disabilities in addition to blindness. Can I apply?


We have programs to provide specially trained guide dogs to people with disabilities in addition to blindness, such as hearing loss or orthopedic problems. For further information on our Special Needs Program, please contact:

Ellin Purcell
Special Needs Program
800-942-0149 ext. 2204


I’ve never owned a dog before. Can I still apply for a guide dog?


Guiding Eyes training includes everything you need to know, from simple health care to grooming, feeding, exercising, and working your dog.


How much does it cost to get a guide dog?

There are no upfront costs to our students to receive a guide dog. Training, travel, equipment, room and board, and follow-up services are also provided free of charge. Donations from individuals, corporations, foundations, and service groups cover the entire cost to graduate a guide dog team. Once home, you will be responsible for the cost of food for your guide dog.


I live in a big city but frequently visit relatives in rural areas. Will one dog be able to work in both areas?


Instruction at Guiding Eyes exposes you and your dog to a variety of travel environments. We will work with you and your dog on rural roads, in small towns, large towns, college campuses, shopping malls, large cities (New York), buses, trains, subways (optional), and cars, to name a few.


I live in a rural area with no sidewalks. Can I qualify for a guide dog?


Instruction at Guiding Eyes includes travel in virtually all types of environments and exposes you and your dog to a variety of travel environments, including rural roads, small towns, large towns, college campuses, shopping malls, large cities (New York), buses, trains, subways (optional), and cars, to name a few.


How long is your waiting list to get into class?

It varies.

The wait from the date we receive your application until you come into class for our general class program is an average of 8 months. This includes the time it takes to process your application.

Home Training and Special Needs have average wait times that are greater than those of the general program. Our focus is on identifying the right dog for each applicant’s individual needs and giving the dogs additional training if necessary to prepare them to meet those specific needs. We appreciate your patience in the process.


Is it difficult to learn to use a guide dog?

We think it’s exciting and challenging!

Each dog is matched very carefully to each individual to make the process as simple as possible, and we take great care to make sure you get the right dog to meet your needs. We consider many factors, including your walking speed, gait, personality type, physical abilities, and the environment you want to work your dog in, then we choose a dog that will easily become the other half of your team. Our staff is there to work with you every step of the way.


What kind of dogs do you use?

The great majority of our dogs are Labrador retrievers. In addition, we breed and train a small number of German shepherds.


Can I request a specific breed, size, color, or sex for my guide dog?


We always consider our applicants’ requests, with the understanding that Guiding Eyes’s first priority is to pair you with a dog that you can travel safely and effectively with. Please feel free to discuss your specific requests early in the application process.


Do I have to wait until I’m 16 years old before I begin the application process?

No, you can begin your application earlier, but you should be 16 before you come into training. There can be exceptions to this age requirement if an applicant can demonstrate the capability and responsibility to be a guide dog user before turning 16.


I have a relative/friend who is going blind. How can I get him/her a guide dog?

You can help …

We’re happy to give you general information, but it’s important that your relative or friend calls our Admissions Department to discuss the requirements, request an application kit, and ask any questions he or she may have. While you have the person’s best interest at heart, he or she must make the important decision to pursue training with a guide dog.


I am blind and use a wheelchair. Can I apply?

At this time, Guiding Eyes cannot provide guide dogs to people who use wheelchairs.

You must be able to walk independently a minimum of 4 to 6 blocks in order to be considered a candidate for either our regular class or Special Needs Program.


I am hearing impaired. Do I need your Special Needs Program?

Let’s work that out together.

We conduct a home interview for every applicant. During this interview, you are asked to walk familiar routes using your white cane. The routes should include some street crossings. The Field Rep will be able to determine whether or not your hearing impairment would qualify you for our Special Needs Program. If you are able to hear the Representative talking from a short distance behind you (as an Instructor will do in the class) and you can make safe street crossing judgments, you may well be able to come into our regular class program. Applicants who are deaf-blind will be referred directly to the Special Needs department for services.


I’m legally blind but I don’t use a cane. I’d like a guide dog because it is difficult for me to see at night. Can I apply?

If you have enough vision to travel safely without a cane, then a guide dog will not be an asset to you. In fact, your reliance on your remaining vision is likely to interfere with the guide dog’s work. Most people don’t do enough night travel to warrant having a guide dog for that purpose only. If and when you become a cane user, you may contact us to discuss applying for a guide dog.


I already have a dog/cat/other pets. Can I still apply for a guide dog?


Many of our graduates have other pets, including but not limited to retired guide dogs, other dogs, cats, ferrets, birds, goats, and pigs (the latter two not necessarily in the house!). Our guide dogs are adaptable to households of all kinds. If you are concerned that your current pet(s) may not get along with a guide dog, our Field Representative will be able to advise you on this during the home interview.


I’m 80 years old. Am I too old to apply for a guide dog?

Not at all.

There is no upper age limit, provided you can walk unaccompanied and independently using a cane, travel a minimum of 4 to 6 blocks without needing to stop and rest, and are in reasonably sound health.


I’m moving soon. Should I go ahead and apply now?

Probably not.

Since you will need to become familiar with your new neighborhood before obtaining a guide dog, we would advise you to move first, then contact us for an application.


What are some reasons the Admissions Committee might not approve my application?

Some of the more common reasons are lack of adequate orientation and mobility skills, poor or unstable health, or too much vision (i.e., visual dependency). Whenever there is the possibility that an applicant can resolve the issue, we leave the door open for him or her to contact us for reconsideration.


Have another question?

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