Ruby is a 7-year-old black Labrador Retriever that has been trained from an early age to assist her owner that is visually impaired. She was trained to be a guide dog in a program based out of Michigan called Leader Dogs for the Blind. This program not only trains guide dogs but also matches clients with a dog that best fits their lifestyle, travel pace, physical size, stamina, and other considerations. Ruby passed guide dog training with flying colors and has been helping her owner on a day to day basis ever since.
During the first year of training, guide dogs grow up in homes with volunteers of the organization where they are taught basic obedience and are exposed to the world. Guide dogs are then coached through four months of formal harness training with a professional guide dog mobility instructor. It is during these four months that they learn guide dog skills, such as stopping at curbs, avoiding obstacles, and finding doors. For example, Ruby was trained to stop at a street curb and wait for her handler to give the command to go forward. Ruby looks for approaching traffic and decides whether or not it is truly safe to cross the street. In this and numerous other ways guide dogs are able to assist their handlers throughout their day.
Ruby is in semi-retirement according to her handler; however, she still stays by her side each and every day. Ruby goes to work with her owner at an organization that was designed to help individuals with disabilities and mental illness so that they may live as independently as possible. Ruby may be at work but she is well known throughout the office and is quick to greet everyone each morning or even console workers if they are having a tough day. Ruby is a happy-go-lucky girl that is eager to please and ready for any task at hand.
At Dupont Veterinary Clinic we value the human-animal bond that enriches so many lives every day. We are proud of Ruby and guide dogs like her for the wonderful service that they provide for their handlers and we hope you feel the same!