International Guide Dog Day 2023
Obviously, dogs are way more than just a “pet.” They’re the very best companions and quickly become our very best friends. But some dogs go above and beyond their best friend and companion status and are also caregivers. There are several types of service dogs out there, but this month we are focusing on the guide dog, because the last Wednesday of April is International Guide Dog Day.
The most common breeds used as guide dogs are Labrador Retrievers, Golden
Retrievers, and German Shepherds, and the idea of using a dog as a guide for Blind people has been around since 1819. That’s right, more than 200 years!
According to the National Calendar Day website, a man named Johann Wilhelm Klein came up with the idea for the first guide dog. He was the founder of the Institute for the Education of the Blind in Vienna, and he wrote a curriculum of sorts for people to use to train dogs to help visually challenged people with their day-to-day tasks.
But the concept and widespread use of a “guide dog” didn’t become popular until World War I, when soldiers returning home were blind from the poisonous gasses used. In 1916, Dr. Gerhard Stalling from Germany came up with the idea to train “mass numbers” of dogs to help the soldiers returning home, and he created the world’s first guide dog school, per the website. Eventually, more and more guide dog schools sprang up all over the country, training a total of 600 dogs a year.
American dog trainer Dorothy Harrison Eustis is credited for helping to relaunch the guide dog movement in 1920, after the other schools were forced to close because of a “reduction in dog quality.” Eustis helped train America’s first guide dog, and in 1929, she founded the Seeing Eye School in New Jersey. Now you can find guide dog schools all over the world, including Europe, Japan, Australia, and of course, North America.
If you would like to observe this wonderful holiday, you can learn all about the different breeds, volunteer for a guide dog organization, such as Guide Dogs of America, or ask someone you know about their guide dog and how they help them throughout the day.
In fact, a few of Big Mama’s favorite customers are the self-titled “In fact, a few of Big Mama’s favorite customers are the self-titled “Three Blind Mice.” Megan Dean, Anne McQuade, and Chris Holbrook come to markets with their incredible guide dogs, and the entire group is just a joy to be around.
When asked why they became the “Three Blind Mice,” Megan says, “The three of us like to hang out a lot, and we are all legally blind. So we just thought it would be a cool name! It’s sort of our sense of humor I guess.”
While Chris has two regular pet dogs named Archie and Percy, Megan’s guide dog is named Nathan, and Anne’s guide dog is named B-Mac.
Both guide dogs came from different schools for guide dogs, with Megan’s dog
from a school in New York called Guiding Eyes For The Blind, and Chris’s dog comes from the Southeastern Guide Dog School in Florida.
We’re sure that either one of these fantastic schools would love a donation from our customers in honor of International Guide Dog Day.
Though each dog came from a different school, they both share the same love of the treats from Big Daddy Biscuits, of course—especially the twists!
Come and meet the Three Blind Mice and their adorable guide dogs while picking up a treat for your favorite guide dog friend you know or for your own pup at the next market that Big Daddy Biscuits are at weekly: Marietta Square Farmers Market from 9 a.m. until Noon, Freedom Farmers Market from 8:30 a.m. until Noon and the Green Market at Piedmont Park from 9 a.m. until 1p.m.
- Abigale Berwager Schreier