In 1927, a young man named Morris Frank (1908-1980) read an article about dogs being trained as guides for blinded veterans of World War I. Frustrated by his own lack of mobility as a blind person, he was inspired to write its author for help. Dorothy Harrison Eustis (1886-1946) was an American training German shepherd police dogs in Switzerland, and when she received Morris Frank's letter, she agreed to help him. He promised he would return to the United States and spread the word about these wonderful dogs.
On June 11, 1928, having completed instruction in Switzerland, he arrived in New York City, proving the ability of his dog, Buddy, by navigating a dangerous street crossing before throngs of news reporters. His one-word telegram to Mrs. Eustis told the entire story: "Success." The Seeing Eye was born with the dream of making the entire world accessible to people who are blind.
Dates and Locations
The Seeing Eye was incorporated in Nashville, Tenn., on Jan. 29, 1929. In 1931, the organization relocated to Whippany, N.J., because the climate in the northeast was more suitable for training dogs.
On June 5, 1965, the cornerstone was laid for the current headquarters in Morris Township, N.J. Renovations to the Washington Valley headquarters were completed in 2013. The 60-acre campus is home to the administrative offices, student residence, veterinary clinic and kennels. In 2001, a breeding station was built on 330 acres in Chester, N.J., which houses the adult breeding dogs and puppies until they are 8-weeks-old. An additional training center is located in downtown Morristown.
Pioneers from Past to Present
The Seeing Eye is the oldest existing guide dog school in the world and continues its role as a pioneer in the guide dog movement. The Seeing Eye has played an integral part in shaping public policy guaranteeing access and accommodation to people who use service animals.
From developing a computer information system that calculates the suitability of every dog in the colony to become a breeder, to funding cutting edge research in DNA sequencing and identifying genetic markers for degenerative eye disease, The Seeing Eye is a research leader in canine genetics, breeding, disease control and behavior. The organization is a founding member of the Council of U.S. Guide dog Schools and a fully accredited member of the International Guide Dog Federation.