A Closer Look at Service Dogs – Guide Dogs for the Blind

Posted by Jenn on 11/25/2015

Since 1942, Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) has bred and trained thousands of guide dogs for legally blind people. These hardworking service dogs start out like any other Labrador or Golden Retriever: adorable, full of energy, and ready to chew everything in the room. So when GDB says Kuranda beds are rugged, they know what they’re talking about.

Guide Dogs for the Blind

Dana Cunningham, who has been with GDB for 36 years, says the organization originally began shopping for dog beds when the radiant heating in the kennel failed. The staff needed a way to keep the dogs off the cold floor. They tried bed after bed. Vinyl-coated foam beds were no match for the little Labs, who enthusiastically chewed them up.

When GDB tried Kuranda beds, they knew they’d found a winner. Cunningham was relieved to discover that the puppies could not make deep teeth marks in Kuranda’s aluminum-framed beds, and they can’t get hold of the thread in the vinyl material, either. “Some of our first purchases are still in use,” she says. “The dogs adore them.”

Like children playing with a refrigerator box, the puppies don’t always use the beds as designed. Sometimes the puppies use the bed as a fort, and hang out underneath it. Or sometimes an entire litter piles on top, which is why Cunningham doesn’t bother with the small beds anymore—she buys beds big enough for an adult Labrador. Even when two adult Labs insist on bunking up, the beds don’t break.

She especially appreciates that Kuranda beds can be repaired, which saves GDB a lot of money. Instead of replacing the entire bed, she can order replacement vinyl, legs, or feet. She is quick to add that the only reason the beds sometimes need new feet is that the staff frequently scrape them across the cement kennel floor. “If it was in a house, the legs would never break,” she says.

GDB would not exist without the support of hundreds of volunteers, including the families who take in puppies or breeding dogs. Typically, GDB dogs are in the kennel only when they are breeding or whelping, when they are very young puppies, or when they are in training. Otherwise, the dogs live with local California families, learning all about life in a human house.

GDB receives no government funding of any kind, and instead relies on private and corporate donations. Trained dogs are provided free of charge to legally blind people in the US and Canada. GDB’s goal is to have half the dogs in each litter become guide dogs. Dogs that don’t quite make the cut go on to other careers, including search and rescue work, or become cherished family pets.
Visit the Guide Dogs for the Blind website to learn more about their life-changing work.