‘Guide Dog’ and ‘Seeing Eye Dog’…the difference

My girl, Opal (IV) and I, are happy graduates of Canadian Guide Dogs For the Blind in Manotick, Ontario, Canada.  I am proud of my canine partner.  Most of the time, I am happy to answer questions  or reply to the numerous comments I receive from the strangers we meet on our treks.  And there are plenty of them! 99% of the time, I don’t mind, as long as Opal can get a rest if she needs it, or I’m not having an indulgent, “don’t bug me, I want to be incognito” moment.  Here’s a recent transcript of recent conversations I had one day at the mall. These all occurred within a half-hour time frame.  We were sitting quietly in a carpeted public seating area, resting,  and just enjoying the moment.  Stranger one: “That’s a lovely seeing eye dog you have there”.    I smile and say to the woman, “thank you…but she’s actually called a Guide dog.  Seeing Eye dogs, are guide dogs that come from The Seeing Eye school in Morristown, New Jersey.  My dog is from Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind in Ontario.  It’s a little like the difference between Kleenex and tissue.  Seeing Eye is a ‘brand’ name. There are many different American and Canadian schools where Guide dogs are graduated, like Guiding Eyes, Leader Dogs, Canine Vision, MIRA, etc.  A tissue can be a Royale, Puff, store brand or a Kleenex etc. but we inacurrately use the term kleenex, when referring to any tissue”.  She seems to have grasped this.  Seconds later, a man with a thick Cape Breton accent comes by and says, “Lady, you’ve got one handsome seeing eye dog there”.   Once again, I launch into my explanation.  This guy is quite surprised and goes on and on about how he had never realized the difference.  “yes”, I say.  “All Seeing Eye dogs are guide dogs, but not all guide dogs are Seeing Eye dogs”. He says something about getting to the pharmacy and leaves.  A mom with a couple of kids hovers, and says to the kids, “look Justin and Corry! there’s a lady with a seeing eye dog!”  I  try to blurt out my pat shpeel, but I’m more concerned with ‘Justin’ who seems to be slithering on the floor, creeping up very close to  Opal.  I sort the kid out and the mom hauls them both away.   The sound of chunky heel approaches.  The newcommer it turns out, is meeting up with the lady who is sitting nearby. The new lady says,to her pal, “Hi Raylene…hey! Look at the seeing eye dog right there next to you! She’s a beauty…looks a little like Mike’s dog”. Then to me, “How long have you had your seeing eye dog, dear?” I sigh, and say, with a momentary sense of defeat, but my ever-present pride, “almost two years”. 

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3 responses to “‘Guide Dog’ and ‘Seeing Eye Dog’…the difference

  1. I’m currently raising a puppy for Guide Dogs of America and I never knew the difference between a Guide Dog and a Seeing Eye Dog. Thanks for clarifying!

  2. No problem, Colby. I think every guide dog handler out there has been hit with many comments about their ‘Seeing Eye dog’, regardless of which guide dog school their dog trained at. The Seeing Eye is the oldest and by default, the most infamous of training schools. It has an interesting history. I wish there was more awareness about all the other excellent centres. They could use the notoriety and money that comes with it.

  3. Am looking into fostering a guide dog puppy and live in the state of maryland. can you name me organizations in my area.

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