Gilbert resident Thomas Hicks recently graduated with a black labrador retriever guide dog, Kay, from two weeks of intensive training at Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc., a non-profit in Boring, Ore.
Hicks was matched with a compatible dog and together they learned to negotiate stairways, elevators, overhead obstacles, crowded sidewalks and busy streets. Kay was trained to avoid distractions and disobey commands to cross a street if traffic is approaching. As part of the training, Hicks was offered air transportation, room and board, training, equipment, financial assistance for veterinary care and support services free-of-charge, as are all students at the school.
The school has produced more than 10,000 trained guides for graduates across the United States and Canada since opening in 1942. There are currently more than 2,500 people with vision loss enjoying the comfort, companionship and safety of these exceptional dogs.