Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The First Guide Dog

Buddy, the first Seeing Eye dog in the United States

I saw this article as a post on Facebook and had to share it with you.  In this article, you will see the birth of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The story is a book and a movie.

Morris Frank with his guide dog, Buddy

In November 1927 Morris Frank was a 20-year-old student at Vanderbilt University and a blind man very unhappy about his dependency on others to get around.

Frank's father read him an article by Dorothy Eustis, a woman in Switzerland who had seen shepherds training dogs to lead blind people get around.  Frank took a ship to Europe and trained very hard with a dog bred and trained to lead a blind person.

Buddy helped Mr. Frank fight for the rights of people with special challenges, including the right to bring service animals into restaurants, onto airplanes, and other places where pets are not typically allowed. Many of the principles and ideas Mr. Frank lobbied for are now law, thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

At one point, in front of a group of dumbfounded reporters, Buddy led Frank safely across a busy New York street. "She (Buddy) moved forward into the ear-splitting clangor, stopped, backed up, and started again, " Frank later wrote. "I lost all sense of direction and surrendered myself entirely to the dog. I shall never forget the next three minutes, Ten-ton trucks rocketing past, cabs blowing their horns in our ears, drivers shouting at us . . . When we finally got to the other side and I realized what a really magnificent job she had done, I leaned over and gave Buddy a great big hug and told her what a good, good girl she was."

Buddy remained a national hero for the rest of her life. When she died in May 1938, the event was noted with a long obituary in the New York Times.

 "Love Leads the Way: A True Story" (The story of Morris Frank and his guide, Buddy.)

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