FAQs - Vision Guide Dogs

Vision Guide Dogs is a new non-profit organization that works collaboratively with the community and other organizations and agencies to provide training and education that will help individuals who are blind or visually impaired navigate the world, not just the world they live in today, but the world they imagine for themselves.

The Vision Guide Dogs office is located in San Antonio, Texas, but we work collaboratively to provide services across Texas, Oklahoma, and beyond.

Vision Guide Dogs serves individuals who are blind or visually impaired. We provide direct services to these individuals by matching them with guide dogs and providing training. Additionally, we educate the community around us to promote safe, inclusive, and equitable communities and workplaces for individuals living with blindness or visual impairment.

Vision Guide Dogs recognizes that not all clients can leave their home, paid employment, or life to train with their guide dog on a guide dog campus. Vision Guide Dogs serves clients in Texas and parts of Oklahoma. We train clients in the communities where they live and work. This approach increases the success of the match and our ability to provide ongoing support services.

Vision Guide Dogs uses a variety of breeds that have the specialized characteristics likely to make them a successful guide dog. Some examples of the breeds we may train include Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Golden/Lab mixes.

Guide dogs do not work 24×7. While guide dogs are working dogs, they also enjoy being able to play with their puppy trainer or owner. Playing together is a great way for the dog and human to bond.

An individual must be legally blind to be eligible for a guide dog. Your eye doctor can determine if you are legally blind. This does not mean you must be totally blind. Many guide dog users have some sight ability.

To be matched with a guide dog, Vision Guide Dogs requires applicants to be at least 17 years of age.

Upon graduation, Vision Guide Dogs charges the client a nominal fee to execute the ownership contract. It is important to emphasize that owning a guide dog costs money. We encourage anyone considering a guide dog to research the cost of food and veterinary care before deciding to get a guide dog. A guide dog owner is responsible for paying for all food and medical costs for the guide dog once they are matched and graduate from the program.

Training time is dependent on your experience navigating the world with a guide dog. If you have used a guide dog in the past, this may only take a few weeks. If you are a first-time guide dog user, training will likely take four to five weeks.

The home visit is an essential opportunity for the Guide Dog Mobility Instructor (GDMI) to meet you and your family as well as assess your abilities and walking environment. This visit is critical to a successful match because this is the time when the GDMI tries to learn enough about you and your goals to match you with the most appropriate dog. Just as no two clients have the same life or goals, no two dogs have the same temperament or ability to bond and serve their human.

Vision Guide Dogs does not match clients with guide dogs on a first-come first-serve basis. Rather, we believe in making the right match. When applying with Vision Guide Dogs, you must be willing to wait until the right dog becomes available for you.

During this training period, you can expect to go for walks twice a day, up to 6 days a week. On your walks, you will cover a variety of scenarios including busy urban traffic and pedestrian spaces. With Vision Guide Dogs, you will walk in your neighborhood and other locations routine to your lifestyle. You will learn how to recognize when your dog is signaling an obstacle and what type of obstacle the dog is indicating. The GDMI will help you become proficient in moving with the dog, dealing with traffic, managing the dog in a restaurant or store, and more.

There are plenty of opportunities to help with the VGD mission. Please see our Volunteer page for information on how to get involved (link to volunteer page).

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) assures that guide dogs have access to all places that accommodate the public including restaurants, hotels, offices, public transportation, and public schools. The American with Disabilities Act establishes that, “The service animal must be permitted to accompany the individual with a disability to all areas of the facility where customers are normally allowed to go. An individual with a service animal may not be segregated from other customers” (ADA, 2023). To learn more about the rights established under the ADA, click here

The answer is “it depends.” When a dog is working, please be careful not to interrupt the training or service the dog is providing. By distracting the dog, you can compromise the safety of the dog and the handler/owner; however, if there is a pause in training/service, you can ask permission to pet the dog and please respect that sometimes the handler/owner will need to say, “No, not right now, my dog is working.” If they say yes, please ask them the best way to approach the dog and where it is okay to touch the dog. If you have a young child with you, take the opportunity to teach the child to always ask permission before petting a dog whether it’s a guide dog or pet dog.

Yes. Six months after your placement and every year thereafter, a Vision Guide Dogs GDMI will visit to support you and your guide dog. At this time we can address any issues or questions you may have. Your relationship with Vision Guide Dogs is long-term because we are invested in your success. We encourage you to contact us in between these visits should you have any concerns. We take seriously our goal of helping you “Navigate the world”, not just the world you currently live within, but the world you desire. A guide dog can expand that world and we are excited to be on this journey with you.

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