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Guide Dogs and Service Dogs

Content last modified July 2017

An old adage says a dog is man’s best friend, but for members of a guide-dog team the situation is mutual. Guide-dog schools take great care to match a dog with a compatible human because dog and handler will navigate the world with each relying on the other.

Guide dogs were first trained in Germany to assist World War I veterans. In 1928 Dorothy Harrison Eustis, an American dog breeder living in Switzerland, published a piece titled “The Seeing Eye” in the Saturday Evening Post describing this new phenomenon. Inspired by her article, Morris Frank, a blind man living in Tennessee, wrote to Eustis about the need for a school to train guide dogs in the United States. She invited him to Switzerland where during a five-week visit she trained him with Buddy, one of her German shepherds. After Morris Frank went home with Buddy and their partnership proved successful, Dorothy Eustis returned to the United States. In 1929 Eustis and Frank collaborated to found the Seeing Eye, the first guide-dog school in this country.

Training usually begins when the dog is a puppy, with the dog raiser working under the supervision of a trainer from a guide-dog school. The program includes socialization, basic commands, and good manners. Later the dogs receive more rigorous training in how to guide. They are taught to navigate obstacles, whether on the ground or hanging above; locate specific places, such as restrooms or exits; and practice intelligent disobedience in the presence of a threat that their owner does not detect.

Not every canine is up to the job. Guide dogs have to be large enough to work in a guide harness but small enough to fit in confined spaces, as well as calm, confident, and not easily frightened. They also need to have sufficient intelligence to assess a situation and a personality amenable to working as part of a team. The most commonly used breeds are Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers.

Since the 1970s dogs have been trained to help people in other ways. Service dogs can alert deaf people to important sounds, recognize the beginning of an epileptic seizure, and assist people with post-traumatic stress disorder. Therapy dogs are trained to provide comfort for people in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes.

This minibibliography lists titles about guide dogs available in braille and talking-book formats. The first section lists books about the training process and the history of the guide-dog movement. The second section consists of memoirs by guide-dog owners. The third section highlights books about service dogs and therapy dogs. The fourth section lists children’s books on the subject. Some titles appear in more than one section. More information about dogs can be found in the minibibliography Dogs: Care and Feeding.

Recorded titles are available on digital cartridge, and/or on the Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD), which allows registered patrons to download digital talking books and audio magazines. Some digital titles may be available only for download. Braille titles are available to registered patrons on NLS Web-Braille.

Contents:

Basic Information

Through a Dog’s Eyes
by Jennifer Arnold

Founder of Canine Assistants, a nonprofit organization that provides service dogs for people with disabilities, offers a guide to training service animals. Arnold, who has multiple sclerosis, recounts developing her program and recalls acts of heroism and hard-won successes. Discusses positive reinforcement methods from the viewpoint of the canine. 2010.
Download DB 71937
Download BR 19181, volume 1
Download BR 19181, volume 2

Independent Vision: Dorothy Harrison Eustis and the Story of the Seeing Eye
by Miriam Ascarelli

Biography of Dorothy Harrison Eustis (1886-1946), founder of the Seeing Eye, the first guide-dog school in America. Chronicles her childhood in upper-class Philadelphia, two marriages, and vacations in Switzerland, where she was introduced to dogs assisting blinded German veterans. Describes the 1929 establishment of Eustis’s school in New Jersey. 2010.
Download BR 18748, volume 1
Download BR 18748, volume 2

Every Step Forward: Personal Accounts of the Unique Partnerships between Blind People and Their Seeing Eye Dogs
by Rosemary Carroll

Twenty-four graduates of the Seeing Eye in Morristown, New Jersey, present individual perspectives on their experiences at the school and on being blind. They describe the process of learning to properly use guide dogs and attest to the increased mobility and independence they achieved through the training facility. 2004.
Download BR 15966, volume 1
Download BR 15966, volume 2

Working like Dogs: The Service Dog Guidebook
by Marcie Davis

Guide to service dogs trained to assist people with mobility limitations. Describes the process of obtaining a service dog, caring for it, and retiring dogs that can no longer work. Includes assistance dog standards, a list of resources, and training programs. 2007.
Download DB 65497

Partners in Independence: A Success Story of Dogs and the Disabled
by Edwin Eames and Toni Eames

Accounts of disabled people whose lives have been enhanced by specially trained guide, hearing, and service dogs. Documents heroism as well as everyday deeds. The authors, who are visually impaired, also describe their own experiences with canine partners and chronicle the 1990s assistance dog movement. Revision of 1997 edition. 2004.
Download DB 58508
Download BR 15603, volume 1
Download BR 15603, volume 2

First Lady of the Seeing Eye
by Morris Frank and Thomas Blake Clark

Describes the author’s relationship with Buddy, the guide dog who rescued him from dependence and self-pity. Also gives a history of the founding of the New Jersey training center, the Seeing Eye. 1957.
BR 01320

Leader Dogs for the Blind: “For Whither Thou Goest”
by Margaret Gibbs

Presents a complete picture of guide dogs for the blind, from their history to the arduous selection and training of everyone involved. This includes the dogs, students, breeders, foster families for puppies, and trainers themselves. 1982.
BR 6315

Tom and Bear: The Training of a Guide Dog Team
by Richard B. McPhee

Twenty-six days in the lives of Tom, a blind college student, and Bear, his new golden retriever guide dog. A diary of the daily regimen describes both the frustrations and the successes of Tom and Bear as they adjust to each other and to the newness of their working relationship. For junior and senior high and adult readers. 1981.
Download DB 20007
BR 5296

Keep Your Head Up, Mr. Putnam!
by Peter Putnam

Blinded in a shooting accident while a student at Princeton, the author recounts with humor his experiences at the Seeing Eye school in Morristown, New Jersey. During the strenuous training, he and the other students learned to have the courage of their guide dogs’ convictions. 1952.

Love in the Lead: The Fifty-Year Miracle of the Seeing Eye Dog
by Peter Putnam

Account of the early years in the development of the Seeing Eye that emphasizes the bond of love forged between man and dog. The author owned seven Seeing Eye dogs and was active in the program from 1941 until his death in 1998. 1979.
Download DB 13824
Download BR 15981, volume 1
Download BR 15981, volume 2

Personal Accounts

Confessions of a Guide Dog: The Blonde Leading the Blind
by Mark Carlson and Musket

Author recounts how, like his father and brother, he gradually became legally blind because of retinitis pigmentosa. Describes the relationship that developed between him and his guide dog Musket and the work and home life they have shared since meeting in 2002. 2011.
Download DB 75126

My Eyes Have a Cold Nose
by Hector Chevigny

Los Angeles radio script writer recounts what he calls his “initiation into the blind world” after he lost his sight from retinal detachment. Describes failed surgical procedures, his physical and emotional adjustment, and a return to work and society with the help of his guide dog, Wizard. 1946.
Download DB 62786
Download BR 16763, volume 1
Download BR 16763, volume 2

Partners in Independence: A Success Story of Dogs and the Disabled
by Edwin Eames and Toni Eames

Accounts of disabled people whose lives have been enhanced by specially trained guide, hearing, and service dogs. Documents heroism as well as everyday deeds. The authors, who are visually impaired, also describe their own experiences with canine partners and chronicle the 1990s assistance dog movement. Revision of 1997 edition. 2004.
Download DB 58508
Download BR 15603, volume 1
Download BR 15603, volume 2

First Lady of the Seeing Eye
by Morris Frank and Thomas Blake Clark

Describes the author’s relationship with Buddy, the guide dog who rescued him from dependence and self pity. Also gives a history of the founding of the New Jersey training center, the Seeing Eye. 1957.
BR 01320

Eyes at My Feet
by Jessie Hickford

Portrays a friendship between a blind woman and her dog. Describes Hickford’s life before and after she acquired Prudence, a golden retriever and a trained guide dog. 1973.
Download DB 08700

I Never Walked Alone
by Jessie Hickford

A blind English author and lecturer continues her adventures with her golden retriever guide dog Prudence, who made “living without seeing” possible and interesting for her. 1977.
Download DB 10786

Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero
by Michael Hingson and Susy Flory

Michael Hingson, an executive who worked in the North Tower of the World Trade Center, recounts his escape after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Hingson, blind since birth, describes what he and his guide dog Roselle experienced as she led him down seventy-eight flights of stairs to safety. 2011.
Download DB 73300
Download BR 19434, volume 1
Download BR 19434, volume 2

This three-book series should be read in the following order:

Emma and I
by Sheila Hocken

The author, who was blind for twenty-eight years, discusses what she calls her three miracles. The first was Emma, a lovable guide dog that provided more than eyes; the second was Don, the man she married; and the third was an operation that restored her sight. 1978.
Download DB 11904
BR 6045

Emma V.I.P.
by Sheila Hocken

A young woman, who was blind for twenty-eight years, describes the moment following surgery when she opened her eyes and saw the blue of a nurse’s uniform. Discusses the joys, surprises, challenges, and problems that accompanied being able to see for the first time. 1980.
BR 6016

Emma and Co.
by Sheila Hocken

Author’s tribute to Emma, her devoted guide dog, companion, and friend. Shares anecdotes of delightful and sometimes disastrous episodes with Emma, the Hocken family, and their other pets. Describes how she traded roles with Emma, becoming the dog’s protector, after Emma’s retirement. 1983.
BR 6017

Traveling blind: adventures in vision with a guide dog by my side
by Susan Krieger

Stanford professor Krieger describes adapting to life with progressively limited vision caused by birdshot retinochoroidopathy. She writes of embarking upon local and long-distance trips and exploring the southwest desert with her guide dog Teela and her lover Hannah. 2010.
Download DB 71184
Download BR 18861, volume 1
Download BR 18861, volume 2

Two Plus Four Equals One: Celebrating the Partnership of People with Disabilities and Their Assistance Dogs
by Kathy Nimmer

A collection of stories, essays, and poems about beloved canine partners from individuals who have disabilities and others. Describes the challenges and rewards of training guide dogs, the first days with a new service animal, and daily life. Shares moments of humor—and of loss. 2010.
Download DB 74137

Two Puppies
by Jane Stern and Michael Stern

The married authors describe a hellish two years with a puppy very unlike other bullmastiffs they owned. In contrast, they discuss the early years of a well-behaved dog bred and trained to be a guide dog. They also include tips on selecting, training, and caring for puppies. Some strong language. 1998.
Download DB 12546
Download BR 12546, volume 1
Download BR 12546, volume 2

The Leading Lady: Dinah’s Story
by Betty White and Tom Sullivan

Tom Sullivan, musician, actor, lecturer, and author, has been blind since birth. Dinah was his guide dog for nine years, but the dog’s failing sight eventually forced her retirement. Instead of enjoying her golden years, Dinah became withdrawn and jealous of her replacement—until Tom’s friend, actress and animal-rights spokesperson Betty White, adopted her. 1991.
Download DB 33746

Service Dogs and Therapy Dogs

Therapy Dogs: Training Your Dog to Help Others
by Kathy Diamond Davis

Provides guidelines for selecting, socializing, and training dogs to do therapy work as part of a group and by themselves for people with special needs. Offers practical instructions for owners on handling a dog as part of a human-dog team. 2002.
Download 63582

Working like Dogs: The Service Dog Guidebook
by Marcie Davis

Guide to service dogs trained to assist people with mobility limitations. Describes the process of obtaining a service dog, caring for it, and retiring dogs that can no longer work. Includes assistance dog standards, a list of resources, and training programs. 2007.
Download DB 65497

Where the Trail Grows Faint: A Year in the Life of a Therapy Dog Team
by Lynne Hugo

Writer recounts nursing home visits with her therapy dog Hannah, a Labrador retriever. Describes the ways Hannah soothed patients and elicited their personal accounts of life, love, and the challenges of growing older. Interweaves patients’ experiences with those of her own family and meditations on aging. 2005.
Download DB 73526

To the Rescue: Found Dogs with a Mission
by Elise Lufkin

Animal-adoption advocate profiles fifty-two dogs and one cat that were rescued from abuse or abandonment and trained as therapy and service animals. Offers firsthand accounts of individuals who benefited from their companionship. Includes questions to consider before adopting a dog. For senior high and older readers. 2009.
Download DB 70466
Download BR 18838, volume 1
Download BR 18838, volume 2

Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him
by Luis Carlos Montalván with Bret Witter

Former army captain recalls returning stateside with numerous physical injuries—including traumatic brain injury—and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after two tours in Iraq. Describes acquiring a service dog named Tuesday and ways the canine helped him recover. 2011.
Download DB 74020

Sounds like Skipper: The Story of Kerena Marchant and Her Hearing Dog Skipper
by Kerena Marchant

Kerena Marchant was five years old before her hearing loss was discovered. With a determination to overcome challenges, she graduated from a regular school and university. But when she landed a job with the BBC, living on her own created some unique problems. Skipper’s arrival in Kerena’s life made her life and work much easier. 1987.
Download BR 08462, volume 1
Download BR 08462, volume 2

Chelsea: The Story of a Signal Dog
by Paul Ogden

Ogden, a deaf professor, discusses the loving working relationship he and his wife have with Chelsea, the professional signal dog they received from Canine Companions for Independence (CCI). Impressed by CCI’s integrity and training methods, Ogden describes the initial two-week orientation, the tasks signal dogs are trained to perform, and the unique quirks that developed as the couple’s relationship with Chelsea grew. 1992.
Download BR 08865, volume 1
Download BR 08865, volume 2

Paws and Effect: The Healing Power of Dogs
by Sharon R. Sakson

American Kennel Club dog-show judge reflects on the emotional and spiritual support dogs provide to their human companions in times of ill health and other crises. Recounts instances of dogs calming autistic children, evoking memories for Alzheimer’s patients, assisting in physical therapy, and alerting people with epilepsy to impending seizures. 2007.
Download DB 66954

Sound Friendships: The Story of Willa and Her Hearing Ear Dog
by Elizabeth Yates

The Hearing Ear Dog program was begun in 1975 to assist deaf and severely hearing impaired persons. Dogs are trained to recognize ordinary household sounds (smoke alarms, doorbells) and more specific individual needs (owner’s name, crying baby). The success of the program is shown in this story of Willa and her dog Honey. For junior and senior high and older readers. 1987.
Download DB 07870
Download BR 07870, volume 1

Children’s Books

Mom’s Best Friend
by Sally Hobart Alexander

Leslie, her dad, and her brother lose a great family pet when Marit dies. But her mom Sally, who is blind, loses her favorite mode of travel. Finding cane travel difficult, and “going sighted guide” confining, Sally returns to Seeing Eye for another guide dog. Leslie tells of her mother’s hard work in training Ursula at Seeing Eye, the family’s adjustment while she is away, and the continuing training when she returns. For grades 2-4. 1992.
Download DB 39251

Maggie by My Side
by Beverly Butler

When the author’s beloved guide dog Una dies, she decides to get another, her fifth since losing her sight at the age of fourteen. Describes her experiences at Pilot Dogs, a facility in Ohio where she trained with her new dog, Maggie. For grades 4-7. 1987.
Download DB 31732

Greff, the Story of a Guide Dog
by Patricia Curtis

The life of a yellow Labrador retriever from the night of his birth through his training at the Guide Dog Foundation, where he is introduced to the young blind man whose guide dog he will be. For grades 5-8 and older readers. 1982.
Download DB 22731

Hanni and Beth: Safe and Sound
by Beth Finke

Seeing Eye dog Hanni describes her routine duties to guide and protect her partner Beth, a woman who is blind. Both Hanni and Beth provide personal notes about their background. For grades K-3. ASPCA award. 2007.
Download DB 67181
BR 18022 (PRINT/BRAILLE)

Morris and Buddy: The Story of the First Seeing Eye Dog
by Becky Hall

Account of twenty-year-old Morris Frank, who was blinded in a boxing accident. Describes his trip from Tennessee to Switzerland in 1928 to become the first American owner of a seeing-eye dog, whom he named Buddy. Discusses training processes and Morris’s mission to bring canine guides to the United States. For grades 3-6. 2007.
Download BR 17573, volume 1

Seizure-Alert Dogs
by Margaret Fetty

Describes situations in which a dog can sense the beginning of its owner’s seizure and then warn and protect the person until the episode ends. Discusses service-animal training and the special bond that develops within canine/owner pairs. For grades 3-6. 2010.
Download DB 70712

Animal Helpers for the Disabled
by Deborah Kent

Traces the history of guide and assistance dogs as well as other service animals such as horses and monkeys. Describes the training that enables them to help persons with physical disabilities. For grades 4-7. 2003.
Download DB 57627

Helping Paws: Dogs That Serve
by Melinda Luke

Explains why dogs are useful to people such as ranchers, policemen, and rescue teams. Discusses service dogs—guide dogs for the blind, alert dogs for the deaf, and therapy dogs for disabled people, among others. For grades 2-4. 2001.
Download DB 14741
Download BR 14741, volume 1

Guide Dogs
by Melissa McDaniel

Overview of the history of guide dogs, starting with the first guide-dog school in Europe after World War I. Discusses canine life and training with their human partners and includes quick facts and resources. For grades 2-4. 2005.
Download DB 74833

Buddy, the First Seeing Eye Dog
by Eva Moore

Morris Frank, a blind man, traveled to Switzerland in the 1920s to train with his first guide dog, Buddy, a German shepherd. After learning to work together, Morris and Buddy went to the United States to teach other blind people about Seeing Eye dogs. For grades 2-4. 1996.
Download BR 14814, volume 1

Meet My Girls: Eightieth Anniversary of the Seeing Eye, Inc., 19292009
by Grace D. Napier

Napier, an educator who has been blind since birth, explains the purpose of the Seeing Eye, Inc., dog-guide school in New Jersey. Shares her experiences with the ten dogs she has had over the years and describes their training. For grades 4-7 and older readers. 2010.
Download DB 73588
Download BR 19424, volume 1
Download BR 19424, volume 2

More than Man’s Best Friend: The Story of Working Dogs
by Robyn O’Sullivan

Explains the jobs that some dogs are trained to do to help people. Covers guide, service, customs, herding, and search-and-rescue dogs. Includes a glossary and list of resources. For grades 2-4. 2006.
Download DB 64323

The Right Dog for the Job: Ira’s Path from Service Dog to Guide Dog
by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent

Account of a golden retriever puppy named Ira, raised by a sixth-grade teacher whose students helped train Ira as a service dog for people with disabilities. Also traces Ira’s later education at a special school where he learned to assist people who are blind. For grades 2-4. 2004.
Download DB 58712

The Triumph of the Seeing Eye
by Peter Putnam and Walter Lord

Chronicles the founding of Morris Frank’s special dog-training center, the Seeing Eye, in New Jersey. Describes the breeding and training of the dogs, as well as the training of blind people in the use of the dogs. For grades 6-9. 1963.
BR 1321

Banner, Forward! The Pictorial Biography of a Guide Dog
by Eva Rappaport

The author, an animal trainer and breeder, follows a specially bred golden retriever through her training as a seeing-eye dog. For grades 4-7. 1969.
BR 1843

A Guide Dog Goes to School: The Story of a Dog Trained to Lead the Blind
by Elizabeth Simpson Smith

Guide dogs for persons who are blind go through a long period of training before they assume their lives’ work. This true story follows Cinderella, a golden retriever, through the stages of her training to become a guide dog. For grades 2-4. 1987.
Download DB 32373