The Labrador retriever is well-known as a guide dog working with people with impaired sight. They are extremely intelligent and quick-witted, that’s why they are commonly trained as assistance dogs. Labradors can function as guide dogs for disabled people (impaired hearing and blind), as search and rescue dogs, and as psychiatric service dogs to help the military veterans who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
They were originally bred as sporting and hunting dogs to retrieve birds in the 19th century.
Role of a guide dog for those visually impaired or blind people:
- Assist its user to avoid obstacles in their immediate path, particularly those overhead or waist high obstacles. A guide dog can stop for a waist high obstacle sooner than you may be able to find them with a cane.
- Can allow a person to walk at their preferred pace especially in complex situations - such as maneuvering through crowds. They can quickly learn the routes you take most often.
- They can be an “ice breaker”. It could be easier to get help from others if you are walking with a guide dog. Some people find it uncomfortable talking to a blind person with a cane.
It is not easy to become a guide dog. Here are the qualifications to become a well-trained guide dog:
- Highly sociable and friendly. As they have to deal frequently with people on wheelchairs, crutches or canes.
- Possess a Temperament Certificate! Passed a temperament evaluation to ensure appropriate behavior in the presence of other dogs in an unfamiliar environment.
- Be calm and steady to provide supervision, navigation or safety from environmental hazards (such as obstacles).
- Be able to assist with the management of mental illnesses. Some dogs are taught to identify the odor changes that are associated with life-threatening medical conditions.
- Be ready for advanced training to improve their service skills.
- Have complete immunization against important diseases such as rabies, leptospirosis, hepatitis and para-influenza.
Things that you have to consider before getting a guide dog:
- Do you like dogs?
- Are you afraid of dogs?
- Do you have any allergies to dogs?
- Any extra space or room for a guide dog in your place?
- Can you spend time with dogs? To groom them daily, watching over their bowel habits, taking them to the vet for check ups, playing with them.
- Are you able to maintain a daily feeding schedule for them even when you are away?
Facts that you may not know:
- A Labrador’s tail looks very similar to the tail of an otter!
- They like to be around people, especially children!
- They are very energetic, enjoy playing games like flyball, tracking and swimming!
- Labradors love to put things in their mouths! Keep an eye on them, especially Labrador puppies!
- They have a good appetite! Take care of his/her weight!
- They are very muscular and strong! So, you better workout to be as fit as them!
A Labrador can truly be your BEST FRIEND!