The First Guide Dog of the USA

Morris Frank settled down on the couch to listen to his father read aloud the evening paper.  This had become a routine every since Morris had lost the sight of his only seeing eye in a boxing match at age 16.  Since then, Morris felt confined and incapable, depending on other people for day-to-day activities.  Morris sighed as his father read through the news but caught his breath when a certain headline was read.  Morris continued to hold in his breath as his father read through the article.  The writer, Dorothy Harrison Eustis, was describing how German Shepherds were being trained in Germany as guides for the blinded veterans of WWI.

“If what she wrote is true, I must have one of those!” Morris exclaimed when his father finished.

He sent a letter asking the writer if the story was true, and, if so, where he could get such a dog.  If he was given a guide dog, Morris promised to help spread the word for other blind people, suggesting that they set up an instruction center in the United States.

Mrs. Eustis answered and told him that, yes, the story was definitely true.  She also invited him to where she was in Switzerland to receive a seeing eye dog.

Morris traveled to Switzerland and trained with a German Shepherd he named Buddy.  On the return home, Buddy skillfully guided Morris through the welcoming crowd.  One newspaperman stepped up to him and dared him to go across West Street.  Morris was a little nervous about such an endeavor as West Street was filled with traffic, but he let Buddy lead the way.  They crossed without mishap, impressing everyone there.  Now, Morris’s goal was to get a guide dog accepted everywhere: in restaurants, public transportation, offices, etc.  Morris even boarded a plane and flew with Buddy at his feet.

Mrs. Eustis and Morris founded the first guide dog school in the US, calling it the Seeing Eye.  Morris traveled to give lectures and supported laws about rights for people with guide dogs.  Morris retired from work at the Seeing Eye in 1956, going on to open his own insurance agency.  The Seeing Eye, Inc. is still running today, providing blind people with carefully trained guide dogs to help them gain back their independence.

About Sissy

Hi! I'm Sissy, a Toy Poodle. On Doggy Times I share articles about dog training, socialization, care, and health. Check out the Trick and Dog Breed Pages to learn more about your furry friend and how to train him/her.

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