January 29th is National Seeing Eye Dog Day! Guide dogs are amongst the most phenomenal animals on the planet, and the difference they make to the lives of those without sight simply cannot be overstated. Dogs have been lending a helping paw to man for centuries, but there wasn’t a demand for “seeing eye dogs” until after World War I. To help these veterans, a formal school and training program for guide dogs (using only German Shepherds) began in Germany. Sadly, the program was short-lived. But it wasn’t lost – thanks to Dorothy Harrison Eustis, a dog trainer from Philadelphia who was living in Switzerland.
After hearing about what happened to the program in Germany, she wrote an article about the Guide school for “The Saturday Evening Post,” which was published in 1927. Enter Morris Frank. Living across the pond in Nashville, Tennessee, Mr. Frank wrote to Dorothy asking if he could to come to Switzerland to train and receive a guide dog of his own. He promised that if he received a dog, he would return home and teach others. They agreed – and the rest is history! After getting his training and his new dog, Morris kept his promise and founded a guide school on January 29th, 1929 in Nashville – thanks to an addition donation of $10,000 from Ms. Eustis. Morris named the school The Seeing Eye, which had been the title of Dorothy’s original article. The school moved to New Jersey in 1931 – and still operates today!
So let’s celebrate these dogs as well as the patient and talented people who train them, and pay tribute to the important role they each play in our society, people across the world come together to give these furry friends some love