A guide dog in retirement
A guide dog is delivered to the blind or partially sighted owner when he is between 1.5 and 2.5 years old. A lot is expected of the dog on a physical and especially mental level; After all, he must always ensure the safety of his boss. The dog works an average of 7-9 years after delivery before he can retire. A number of scenarios are then possible. This is always done in mutual consultation with guide dog user and guide dog school.
- Time for retirement
- Place of retirement
A guide dog user receives an aftercare visit at least once a year at most guide dog schools. In case of problems or questions, an instructor from the guide dog center may visit several times. The guide dog school instructor always looks very critically at the working combination. He also constantly checks whether the dog can perfectly cope with the living situation of the person with a visual handicap. For example, the guide dog school instructor makes an estimate when replacement is needed, although there are of course always situations where this is impossible to plan in advance.
Time for retirement
The age at which a guide dog must retire is difficult or impossible to predict in advance. Every dog is different and there are various situations possible why a guide dog is no longer able to work. For example, it is possible that the dog no longer feels like it, and therefore walks more slowly, is less concentrated, no longer likes or wants to get out of the basket immediately, etc. In addition, physical reasons play a role: epilepsy, hip or elbow dysplasia, back problems , cancer, cataract, diabetes mellitus, ?? Sometimes other serious, unexpected situations happen that prevent a dog from walking with its owner; the dog is very startled by something, is attacked by another dog, people throw fireworks at the dog or light it near the guide dog, ?? The guide dog school tries to keep a combination working by retraining and supporting the dog and / or owner, but unfortunately this does not always work out again. Usually, however, a guide dog is rejected for work and thus retired when it becomes too old for the mentally and physically demanding work required of a guide dog. The age of the dog then fluctuates around 8-11 years.
Place of retirement
When it becomes clear that a guide dog can retire, the guide dog school and the user will jointly determine the best solution. This also depends entirely on the family and work situation of the person with a visual impairment. Some people live with a partner and / or children, and then the old dog can stay in the family if the partner and / or children are at home a lot and the dog does not have to stay alone for too long (preferably max. 4 hours). Sometimes, however, the situation is such that everyone in the family or a single person is out a lot and the old dog cannot come along. The old dog is no longer allowed to wear a harness and is an ordinary house dog. In principle, he can no longer go to the store, the hospital, a theater performance or work. The retired guide dog would be alone for far too long in some situations.
At the retirement location, the interests of the dog are always looked at and acted upon. Where can he still enjoy a wonderful retirement full of peace, attention, love and fun to run loose? Some guide dogs stay with the boss / in the family, others go to the foster family where he was raised, some go to the children / parents or friends, and for other retired guide dogs a golden basket is sought. On a number of websites of guide dog schools for the blind, you can sign up for a waiting list for adopting a guide dog in retirement. From time to time a top spot for a retired guide dog is also sought via social media.
Most importantly, the retired guide dog has a wonderful life, full of love, attention and fully adapted to his needs.