Guide dogs

Whilst The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association was founded in 1934, the modern guide dog story started in Germany in 1916-17 when the dogs were trained to lead soldiers blinded in the First World War. In 1927 Mrs Dorothy Eustis, an American training police and army dogs in Switzerland, wrote an article about these German dog training schools and was contacted by blind American, Morris Frank. A year later Mrs Eustis arranged for a guide dog to be trained for Morris Frank and started The Seeing Eye organisation in Switzerland and America.
In 1930 two British women, Miss Muriel Crooke and Mrs Rosumund Bond, heard about The Seeing Eye and contacted Dorothy Eustis who sent over one of her trainers. In 1931, the first four British guide dogs completed their training and three years later The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association was born – training from a lock up garage in Wallasey, Cheshire.

From these humble beginnings, the charity slowly grew. In 1940 the first training centre was established in Leamington Spa and since that time, training centres have been built to serve every part of the UK.

photograph of the first four guide dogs units to be trained in Britain. The first four guide dog 'units' to be trained
in Britain, seen here in Wallasey, Cheshire, 
in October 1931. From the left, Allen Caldwell
with Flash, G. W. Lamb with Meta, Musgrave 
Frankland with Judy and Thomas ap Rhys with

In the early years suitable dogs were difficult to find and this was a financial drain on the charity. To combat this, a ‘puppy walking scheme' was started in 1956, placing puppies with volunteer 'walkers' who introduce the young dogs to the sights, sounds and smells of a world in which they will play such an important part. To further ensure the suitability of dogs, a breeding programme was established at Tollgate House, near Warwick, in the 1960s.

photographs of dogs being picked for training
Guide dog walking on the left side.
Guide dogs on the wrong side!

Guide dogs have been featured in the stamps of many countries. It is interesting to note some errors in the designs of the stamps. Guide dogs for the blind are trained to walk on the left hand side of the person unless the patient has problem with the left upper limb. All the previous stamps show this clearly except for the two above where the dogs are walking on the wrong side and the owners have normal limbs! 

The above information is from the Guide Dog Association and Dossu Journal.
More ophthalmic stamps