The Seeing Eye, Inc., pioneer and innovator of dog guide services, celebrates its 80th anniversary in 2009. So much has changed since our founding on Jan. 29, 1929, and yet so much remains the same.
We are an organization that bears tremendous pride in long history, but no more so than the pride we hold in our commitment to the future. So long as people who are blind resolve to maintain their independence, it is our privilege to be the catalyst in helping them to help themselves.
– The Seeing Eye is incorporated in Nashville on January 29. The first class begins in February and the first graduated dogs are Tartar and Gala.
– Co-founder Morris Frank meets with President Hoover.
– The Seeing Eye moves its headquarters to Whippany, N.J.
– Co-founder Dorothy Harrison Eustis approaches the Harold Strong Company for professional fundraising counsel.
– Fees of $150 for a first dog and $50 for each successor dog are set and have not changed since.
– This year, 57 students are served. Dorothy Eustis closes her school to train instructors (L-Oeil Qui Voit) in Switzerland.
– The first issue of the Guide magazine is published.
– The Seeing Eye begins an association with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind and the first blind Canadians are served.
– A record 100 students are served this year. For the first time, the school anticipates that going forward, a quarter of students will be people returning for second dogs. The school publicly acknowledges the need for an endowment to fulfill its obligation to replace any dogs that die in service.
– On May 23 Buddy dies, and Morris Frank becomes one of those graduates predicted to return soon for a second dog.
– This year, 150 students served, a 50 percent increase in just two years.
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– Dorothy Eustis steps down as president; Henry A. Colgate succeeds her.
– On December 8, the day after Pearl Harbor, the Board of Trustees passes a resolution “to supply Seeing Eye dogs, without charge, to eligible members of the armed forces who lose their sight in the line of duty.” They are given priority over all other applicants.
– The Seeing Eye begins its association with 4H, and the puppy-raising program begins.
– Morris Frank and Buddy II complete an eight-month tour of 39 Army, Navy, and Veterans Administration hospitals in 15 states.
– The much scaled-back Guide magazine is devoted to stories of graduates working for the war effort.
– The U.S. Army sends blinded soldier Yoshina Omiya to The Seeing Eye for training. Omiya is a member of a unit composed of Americans of Japanese ancestry, the most decorated military unit of WWII.
– After the war presented a serious shortage of manpower to fill instructor positions, five instructors return to work, joined by five apprentices. Apprentices are selected based on “intelligence, stamina, character, size, spirit, youth, and education.” The Guide reports, “While women were considered for the work at one time, it was found they lacked physical strength for the long, hard training.”
– The Chicago Seeing Eye Enrollment Committee, one of several volunteer groups established nationwide to recruit donating members, launches a drive to add 1,000 new members.
– The school purchases 100 acres in Mendham, N.J., to build a farm to breed German shepherds.
– Morris Frank and Buddy III visit President Truman at the White House.
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– Women’s dormitory opens. One-third of students are women.
– Helen Hubbard, a benefactor who established the John Hubbard School for Instructors in 1934, earns the rank of Commander of the French Legion of Honor for her aid to the French people.
– New motion picture called “The Seeing Eye” is released by Warner Brothers.
– To date, 2,100 people have been served; the Guide reports on a grad who traveled more than 800,000 miles throughout the United States with her dog as her sole companion.
– Actuarial estimates show that 3.7 additional dogs will be needed for every present graduate. The future commitment surpasses 4,600 dogs, exclusive of the demand from new students.
– The Indiana State Legislature boasts two Seeing Eye graduates among its members: Sen. Thomas Hasbrook and Rep. Charles Rachels.
– Morris Frank retires as vice president. A building with a garage for Seeing Eye vans and waiting room for students-in-training opens downtown. The maple furniture is upholstered in watermelon pink and chartreuse.
– The first holiday message to graduates is recorded rather than printed, distributed on 7-inch, 33 1/3 RPM records.
– National Geographic Magazine, in an article titled “Dogs Work for Man,” features three pages devoted to the work of The Seeing Eye.
– A Braille version of the Guide is introduced.
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– The Seeing Eye’s 500th class is held; 2,600 have been served to date.
– World-renowned anthropologist Dr. Margaret Mead and two colleagues interested in non-verbal communication visit The Seeing Eye.
– The school acquires property for new campus in Morris Township, N.J.
– Dr. Richard Hoover, the ophthalmologist who developed the long cane method of mobility, while visiting and lecturing to Seeing Eye staff, is asked about an electronic device for guiding blind people. He says if we could send a space capsule into the atmosphere and control it, perfection of an electronic device is possible.
– Ten-year-old Gem has logged more than 150,000 in-flight miles with her master Robert Whitstock, visiting 46 of the 50 states in his role as field representative.
– The school moves to the Morris Township location, opens an exhibit at the World’s Fair, and is assigned its first zip code.
– The Walt Disney Company films “Atta Girl, Kelly!” on The Seeing Eye campus.
– A young Jim Kutsch watches “Atta Girl, Kelly!” on the Wonderful World of Color. Two months later, he is blinded in a chemical explosion. Memories of the Disney series prompt him to work toward a goal of his first Seeing Eye dog. Today, he is the first Seeing Eye graduate to serve as president.
– Seeing Eye Graduate Sherrill Rae Peterson of Galesburg, Ill., is one of three blind college students who are presented with scholastic achievement awards by President Lyndon Johnson at a ceremony in the White House Cabinet Room.
– In celebration of its 40th anniversary, The Seeing Eye honors some of its earliest pioneers with presentation of the Buddy Award to Morris Frank, Elliott Humphrey, Gretchen Green, G. William Debetaz, Elizabeth Hutchinson, and Marian Jobson.
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– The Seeing Eye moves to a new downtown student center/garage on Schuyler Place.
– William Debetaz retires as vice president of training and a statue of him with a German shepherd is unveiled.
– First Lady Pat Nixon visits The Seeing Eye.
– The Training Division reports that it completed 200 follow-up visits to graduates this year.
– Walker Dillard Kirby, a member of The Seeing Eye Board of Trustees, is the first trustee to take a blindfold walk with a dog.
– Sharon Griswold and Sherrie Freshley become the first female instructors at The Seeing Eye since the resignation of Adelaide Clifford in 1930.
– Five new buildings open at the breeding facility in Mendham, N.J.
– The first 4H dog camp is held at the Somerset County, N.J., fairgrounds, where puppy raisers demonstrate their puppy handling skills.
– Morris Frank is the first person to reach the half-century mark as a Seeing Eye dog user.
– The Seeing Eye opens its first onsite canine clinic, and the U.S. Post Office issues a stamp commemorating the school’s 50th anniversary.
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– Morris Frank dies on November 22.
– Jack Humphrey, the man who trained Morris Frank and Buddy I, dies at age 92.
– The four major dog guide schools in the country – The Seeing Eye, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Leader Dogs for the Blind, and Guiding Eyes for the Blind – collaborate on a publication detailing federal and state legislation on public access for guide dogs.
– A new brochure titled “Seeing Eye Dogs are Good Tenants” is prepared for use by landlords and rental agents.
– The Seeing Eye launches a new tour program in November. The effort is spearheaded by Trustee Walker Dillard Kirby and her committee of volunteer guides.
– Construction begins on the third downtown garage/student center on Mt. Kemble Avenue.
– Walt Disney’s “Love leads the Way,” a Disney Sunday night movie, tells the story of Morris Frank and Buddy.
– Director of Instruction and Training Richard Krokus travels to Madrid to share his expertise with an organization seeking to establish a Spanish dog guide school.
– The Seeing Eye hosts 10 other U.S. dog guide schools to exchange information about breeding and training of guides.
– The Heritage Society is established for people who have planned gifts to the school through their wills, life insurance, or other resources.
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- President George Bush names The Seeing Eye the 138th Point of Light in honor of its corps of volunteers.
– The Seeing Eye matches the 10,000th dog with a student and hires its first full-time veterinarian, Dr. Dolores Holle.
– Ground is broken for a new training kennel and an addition to the student residence.
– The Walker Dillard Kirby Canine Center opens, offering larger, more canine-friendly kennel facilities for dogs in training.
– The Seeing Eye’s breeding program has reduced the incidence of hip dysplasia from 30 percent to 5 percent in its German shepherds and from 18 percent to near zero in its Labrador retrievers.
– In response to the more challenging world in which its dogs must guide people, the school increases its training period for dogs from three months to four.
– The one-man show by Bill Mooney, “With a Dog’s Eyes,” premieres on New Jersey’s public TV station and airs on PBS nationwide.
– The Vincent A. Stabile Canine Health Center opens.
– The Seeing Eye undergoes its first-ever assessment by the International Guide Dog Federation, resulting in full accreditation.
– For the first time, a graduate is trained by two generations of instructors; Gene Forsyth was trained with his first dog by Gary Mattoon and returns this year to be trained with his fourth dog by Gary's son, Chris Mattoon.
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– Research partially funded by The Seeing Eye results in a new test to identify genetic markers for a degenerative eye disease.
– The organization’s first accessible website is launched.
– The first puppies are born at the new breeding station in Chester, N.J.
– A $2 million grant from the Jane H. Booker Charitable Foundation establishes the Jane H. Booker Chair in Canine Genetics, a position held by Dr. Eldin Leighton. The veterinary clinic earns its first accreditation from The American Animal Hospital Association.
– The school installs wireless internet in the student wing.
– A statue of Morris Frank and Buddy by J. Seward Johnson is dedicated on the Morristown Green. It is a 75th anniversary gift from the Board of Trustees.
– Placement of a Seeing Eye dog in Hawaii makes this the first time there are Seeing Eye partnerships in all 50 states at the same time.
– The school begins offering microchipping for its students’ dogs, providing a method of permanent identification.
– The Jane H. Booker Student Center opens in downtown Morristown.
– The Seeing Eye proudly celebrates its 80th year of providing independence.
– The Seeing Eye celebrates its 15,000th human/canine partnership!
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