This week we have facts about the first Seeing Eye dog in the U.S. Frank Morris traveled to Switzerland 75 years ago to meet his new guide, Buddy.
CURWOOD: Welcome back to Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood.
[MUSIC: Erroll Garner “It Could Happen to You” That’s My Kick & Gemini Octave (1994)]
| Morris Frank, Dorothy Harrison Eustis, and Buddy I, the founders of The Seeing Eye. (Photo: The Seeing Eye)
Seventy-five years ago this week a blind man named Morris Frank traveled from Tennessee to Switzerland to meet a dog. Not just any dog, but Buddy, a female German Shepherd who had been trained to be his guide. Mr. Frank received his dog from Dorothy Eustis, a canine trainer for police and rescue work. Ms. Eustis had become interested in guide dogs after visiting a school in Germany that had taught them to help blind war veterans. An article she wrote inspired Mr. Frank to imagine greater independence for blind people everywhere. He and Ms. Eustis agreed to pursue this goal together, starting with the training of Buddy.
When Morris Frank took Buddy home, she became the first official guide dog in America. The pair toured the nation together, attracting attention from the public and the press. People were amazed by their ability to navigate busy streets and master other challenges of daily life. Morris Frank was thrilled by his new freedom and Dorothy Eustis soon opened the first school in the United States for guide dogs for the blind, which she named The Seeing Eye.
There are about 7,000 guide dogs working in America today. They are trained to respond to commands but also to think on their own – to disobey if told to cross the street when a car is coming. Perhaps most difficult of all is learning to ignore other dogs and cats while on duty.
And for this week, that's the Living on Earth almanac.