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Creating exceptional partnerships between

people, dogs, and communities

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Since 1942, Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) has been creating partnerships between people, dogs, and communities. With exceptional client services and a robust network of instructors, puppy raisers, donors, and volunteers, we prepare highly qualified guide dogs to serve and empower individuals who are blind or have low vision from throughout the United States and Canada.

All of the services for our clients are provided free of charge, including personalized training and extensive post-graduation support, plus financial assistance for veterinary care, if needed. Our work is made possible by the generous support of our donors and volunteers; we receive no government funding.

How It Started

It all began with a dream—the dream of creating the first guide dog training school on the West Coast. It was a dream shared by Lois Merrihew and Don Donaldson who volunteered their efforts along with many others. They recognized the need to help wounded servicemen who would return from World War II without their sight. They believed in the potential of dogs to serve as guides for the blind.

Merrihew and Donaldson incorporated our school in May of 1942 and began instruction of students in a rented home in Los Gatos, California (south of San Jose). A German Shepherd named Blondie, who had been rescued from a Pasadena dog pound, was one of the first dogs trained. Blondie was later paired with Sgt. Leonard Foulk, the first serviceman to graduate from the new school.

In 1947, GDB moved to our present location in San Rafael, California, about 20 miles north of San Francisco. In order to meet the increasing demand for our services, we opened a second campus in Boring, Oregon (25 miles east of Portland), in the Fall of 1995. The first class of students graduated from the Pacific Northwest campus in October of that year.


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Guide Dogs for the Blind empowers lives by creating exceptional, life altering, partnerships between people, dogs, and communities.


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