Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can I donate my dog or puppy to The Seeing Eye?
The Seeing Eye breeds its own German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers and Labrador Golden crosses. Occasionally, we provide boxers to students who are allergic to long-hair dogs. Except for the boxers, our dogs are all bred at our own facilities, selecting parents for trainability, health, and temperament.
2. Can I adopt a dog from The Seeing Eye?
Yes, those living in the Eastern United States can adopt a dog from The Seeing Eye, although the waiting list can be quite lengthy. In certain situations, some of our dogs may not become Seeing Eye® Dogs and are made available for adoption. For complete details of our adoption program, please read our Dog Adoption page, located in the “About Us/Our Programs” section of this site.
3. How long does it take to train a dog?
When the dog is about eight weeks old, it’s placed in the home of a volunteer puppy-raiser, where it’s taught basic obedience and socialization and given lots of love. When it’s about 18 months old, the dog returns to The Seeing Eye and begins a four-month course of training with a sighted instructor. When the dog passes this phase, it’s matched with a blind person. The person and the dog then train together, under the supervision of a sighted instructor. Someone training with his or her first dog participates in a 27-day training session. For someone training with a second or subsequent dog, the session lasts 20 days.
4. How does a dog know when to cross the street?
Dogs don't see colors the same way we do and can’t read traffic lights. The dog’s owner learns to judge the movement of traffic by its sounds. At the appropriate time, he or she will command the dog, “forward.” The dog will not carry out the command unless it is safe to do so. This is called “intelligent disobedience.”
5. How does a dog know where a blind person wants to go?
Blind people generally know their own communities and can direct their dogs wherever they want to go. The basic commands are “forward,” “right,” and “left.” In a new location, blind men and women, like sighted people, ask for directions and communicate them to the dog by using the proper commands.
6. How long does a dog work?
The average working life for a Seeing Eye® dog is 7-8 years. Many Seeing Eye® dogs have lived and worked to the ages of 10 or 11. Retired Seeing Eye® dogs may be kept as pets, given to a friend or relative as a pet, or returned to The Seeing Eye.
7. How much does a Seeing Eye dog cost?
Each student is asked to pay $150 for his or her first visit to The Seeing Eye and $50 for each subsequent visit. This fee, unchanged since 1934, includes the cost of the dog and its initial equipment; the student’s instruction with the dog; room and board during the 20 to 27 days the student spends at the school; round-trip transportation from anywhere in the United States or Canada; and lifetime follow-up services. This payment, which may be made in installments, covers a fraction of the total cost. To the student, however, it represents dignity and self-respect. No one has ever been denied a Seeing Eye® dog for lack of funds.
8. Does the government provide funds for Seeing Eye dogs?
The Seeing Eye receives no government funding. The school is supported by private donations, bequests, and gifts from foundations.
9. Can I train dogs for The Seeing Eye?
Staff instructors are full-time employees who hold college degrees from various fields of study and have successfully completed three years of specialized on-the-job training. They relate well to dogs and people and are physically fit, since their jobs are physically demanding and involve working outdoors in all weather. Contact the Human Resources Department at The Seeing Eye if you would like additional information.
10. Are people with guide dogs allowed in public places?
The Americans with Disabilities Act and laws in all 50 states and the provinces of Canada guarantee access to public places to blind people accompanied by Seeing Eye dogs. The dogs are trained to behave properly on public transportation, in restaurants, stores and any other place their masters go.
11. What’s the hardest part about having a guide dog?
The greatest difficulty guide dog users encounter is public interference. For anyone to take hold of the blind person’s arm or the dog’s harness, or otherwise distract either the dog or its owner, is like grabbing the steering wheel of a car away from its driver. If you think a guide dog user needs assistance, calmly ask if he or she would like help. The person can then accept or decline your offer.
12. Are all dogs that lead blind people Seeing Eye® dogs?
Only dogs trained by The Seeing Eye, Inc., of Morristown, N.J., are properly called Seeing Eye® dogs. The Seeing Eye is a registered trademark. The generic term for dogs trained by other schools is “guide dog.”