Guide dog for Children under 17?
Recently, we received a request for a guide dog for a 10 year old child. The family has been trying to locate a suitable seeing eye dog for their daughter but without any luck. They found that responsible trainers don't allow children under 17 to have guide dogs. The obvious question is, 'Why can't my child have a well trained guide dog if she is 10?' Here is the question asked by one of her parents: 'My daughter is the one who is in need of a dog. She is almost 10. We adopted her from China when she was 4. You can actually "google" her on internet under "Cricket Bidleman." In the US, we cannot find a guide dog provider who will provide a dog to any child under 17 years. Cricket is in regular school, and her only difficulty is when she moves from class to class or to the field because even with a cane, she ends up running into things a quite a bit since she can't see.' As much as we all would love to help Cricket, training and placing a Guide Dog is a huge responsibility on the owner as well as the dog. It can take years to properly train a guide dog. However, it doesn't stop there! The blind or visually impaired person needs training as well. This includes learning how to be a responsible and understanding dog owner, how to sense the dog's signs and messages and how to respond to them. In addition, to complete their training, the dogs need a "follow up training" with their new family and owner in order to accustom them to the personality of their master. The best advice I can give you, is to wait till your child is at least 16 years old as she has to learn how to handle a seeing eye dog. Even if someone would provide a guide dog for a child under 16, you should understand that it might do more harm than good.