Every Day Heroes. When we think of heroes we tend to think people. Alanya and Lijda for example in my last two EDH blogs but also people like Fireman, Policeman, Nurses and Teachers will be counted among them by most of us. However not every Every Day Hero is a human.
In the title I used S.E. Dogs. Now you could read that as Special Edition dogs since a lot of dogs I am talking about are very “special edition” but it stands actually for Seeing-Eye Dog also known as Guide dogs.
Some History first.
References to guide dogs date at least as far back as the mid-16th century; the second line of the popular verse alphabet “A was an Archer” is most commonly “B was a Blind-man/Led by a dog” In the 19th century verse novel Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the title character remarks “The blind man walks wherever the dog pulls / And so I answered.”
The first guide dog training schools were established in Germany during World War I, to enhance the mobility of returning veterans who were blinded in combat, but interest in guide dogs outside of Germany did not become widespread until Dorothy Harrison Eustis, an American dog breeder living in Switzerland, wrote a first-hand account about a guide dog training school in Potsdam, Germany, that was published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1927. Earlier that same year, U.S. Sen. Thomas D. Schall of Minnesota was paired with a guide dog imported from Germany, but the guide dog movement did not take hold in America until Nashville resident Morris Frank returned from Switzerland after being trained with one of Eustis’s dogs, a female German shepherd named Buddy. Frank and Buddy embarked on a publicity tour to convince Americans of the abilities of guide dogs, and the need to allow people with guide dogs to access public transportation, hotels, and other areas open to the public. In 1929, Eustis and Frank co-founded The Seeing Eye in Nashville, Tennessee (relocated in 1931 to New Jersey).
The first guide dogs in Great Britain were German shepherds. Four of these first were Flash, Judy, Meta, and Folly, who were handed over to their new owners, veterans blinded in World War I, on 6 October 1931 in Wallasey Merseyside. Judy’s new owner was Musgrave Frankland. In 1934 The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association in Great Britain began operation, although their first permanent trainer was a Russian military officer, Captain Nikolai Liakhoff, who moved to the UK in 1933.
Now of course the Seeing Eye dog is the most well known of the support dogs but there are also dogs that are trained to help other people then blind. I am thinking not only disabled people but, like we do here in the Netherlands, dogs can be trained in the following areas as well:
Kids with Autism:
Some children with autism become mesmerized when on the streets. They suddenly run away or stay standing in one place. This can result in dangerous and difficult situations. As a parent, you are forced to always hold your child close by . Going out with your child or family together, can therefore be a big problem. Do you recognize this? By linking your child to a trained autism service dog, the danger of running away disappears and takes some of the stress off. I will list some organizations at the end of this article where more info can be found about these special dogs
BUDDY DOG FOR (FORMER) Armed Forces
Cope with life again
Some (former) military personnel, agents or people with similar professions, are struggling with anxiety, nightmares, insomnia, social isolation and other PTSD symptoms. A specially trained dog buddy can be a solution. H/she ensures peace, regularity and ease of movement. The buddy dog also knows practical skills with which he supports his buddy. For example waking up his buddy when he has a nightmare. These dogs can actually prevent homelessness and avoid institutionalization among those that have returned from active duty in Iraq ad Afghanistan. In the USA they are called Battle Buddy Dogs.
These dogs are ALL Every Day Heroes but here is a helpful hint: I am sure that if you see such a dog helping his/her “master” you are eager to pet and praise the dog. DO NOT DO THIS unless you have gotten permission from its owner. It is very simple, these dogs are working, let them do their work please. If you see one of them resting first ASK if it is ok to approach and/or pet the dog. DO NOT GIVE IT TREATS
Besides the seeing eye links already given here are some more informative links about these dogs.
Many more organizations are to be found worldwide. I have only listed the Dutch, USA, UK, Canadian and Australian Organizations (and not even all of them) since most visitors to this blog come from these countries. However google is your friend if you live in another country then mentioned.
To close this article I would like to ask if you can think of anyone/thing more deserving for the honorary title of Every Day Hero?….not?…. thought so as well 😀 A big Wolf Hug to ALL the trainers and Dogs out there, you are AMAZING