2012 65¢ Guide Dog
Dogs at Work
Issue Date: January 20, 2012
City: Merrifield, VA
Printed By: Avery Dennison
Printing Method: Photogravure
Perforations: Die Cut 10 ¾
Volunteers begin with energetic bundles of fur and train them to help a visually impaired or blind person gain independence.
It takes a special dog to work with its handler to navigate busy streets and avoid obstacles. To be chosen as a guide dog, a puppy must be intelligent, obedient, and friendly. Its first year is spent learning basic obedience skills like walking on a leash and reacting well to strangers and other animals. Not all dogs are suited for the work ahead, so many are released from the program.
When a potential guide dog is about 18 months old, it is ready for specific training. It learns to use a harness and follow commands. The guide dog is trained to stop at curbs and stairs until it is told to proceed. It must also learn selective disobedience, which means ignoring the handler’s command if the situation is dangerous. This is critical at crosswalks, where the dog may see traffic that the handler cannot hear. The guide dog learns not to proceed until the danger has passed.
A strong bond forms between a visually impaired person and a guide dog. A well-trained dog offers a blind person the confidence to venture out. Each half of the team does its part, knowing they can conquer obstacles together.