September Awareness – National Service Dog Month
September is here! And that means it’s the end of summer, a beginning of a new school year, football has returned and time to celebrate National Service Dog Month. Originally known as National Guide Dog Month, this is one of the most influential observances in the month of September. National Service Dog Month is a commemoration for the work of guide dogs in the United States. The purpose of the observance is to help raise awareness, appreciation and support for guide dogs across the nation.
This observance was established in 2008 by the International Guide Dog Federation. The initial goal for the observance was for it to act as a fundraising drive to benefit non-profit organizations. The idea was inspired by Dick Van Patten, an American actor and the founder of Natural Balance Pet Foods.
Where it began
Patten was impressed by the intelligence and training of these phenomenal dogs when he visited a campus in Palm Springs, California. While he was there, Patten was blindfolded and received support from a trained guide dog to assist him around a path. With this first-hand experience, Patten appreciated the assistance and mobility these dogs provided people with disabilities, and he garnered a passion for guide dogs.
After educating himself more about guide dogs, Patten soon learned it costs over $40,000 to raise and train these animals. Along with the money, Patten also realized it can be a strenuous task to train a puppy into a guide dog. It takes a lot of hard-work, effort and patience, and in the end, it can take up to two years to properly train one dog in becoming a handlers’ protector.
Patten became determined and inspired to raise awareness, money and support for guide dog schools.
In 2008, Patten’s Natural Balance Pet Foods generated promotions to ensure all money raised would benefit non-profit, Guide Dogs of the Desert. Then, he gained support from the Petco Foundation, to organize a fundraising campaign through their retail stores. With the accreditation by the International Guide Dog Federation, National Guide Dog Month was established with the hope to benefit non-profit guide dog schools. The observance was successful, and has only continued to grow among the years.
Guide dogs provide companionship, inspire passion, protect and assist their handlers. With proper training, these dogs help accomplish lifelong goals, perform tasks, embark on adventures and overcome debilitating mental illnesses across the world. It is very important to recognize these dogs and help support the non-profit organizations (Pilot Dogs, Guide Dogs of America, Guide Dogs of the Desert and Guide Dogs for the Blind) that spend all their hard work training these dogs to become a best friend for their handlers.
Here in Columbus, Pilot Dogs is a non-profit organization that trains and raises puppies into guide dogs. This great organization has been serving the blind and visually impaired community since 1950. Over the years and with the help of donations, Pilot Dogs has trained over 7,500 individuals in the use of their guide dogs.
We hope you support these great non-profits, like Pilot Dogs and many more, and continue to help raise awareness for service dogs!