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
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.
first four guide dog 'units' to be trained
Britain, seen here in Wallasey, Cheshire,
October 1931. From the left, Allen Caldwell
Flash, G. W. Lamb with Meta, Musgrave
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.
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!