LIBERTY SERVICE AND GUIDE DOGS PROGRAM FOR THE BLIND OR VISUALLY IMPAIRED PEOPLE

Dogs are amazing creatures!

Guide dogs go beyond being exceptional mobility assistants since they also provide companionship, boost confidence, enhance independence in blind and visually impaired people. Guide dogs lead their partner to their everyday obligations helping them maintain an active daily life. People that are blind or visually impaired, arrive at destinations less mentally fatigued, as the dog has used his/her own initiative to navigate the environment.

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Practically, guide dogs are trained to get their partner from point A to point B following the safest path. They are trained to avoid all obstacles in the travelway, to locate requested destinations and respond to commands requiring more of the dog’s initiative such as “find the door/step/seat etc.” They are also expected to concentrate and ignore distractions such as food, other animals, people, scent, etc. Guide dogs navigate safely all forms of public transport, as practiced during training i.e. bus, train, taxi, airplane, ferry, tram. They also learn to follow safe travel routes safely in unstructured environments such as beach, bush, roadside. They even adjust their walking speed to suit the environmental circumstances. Guide dogs will even deny following a command if there is danger, a method called “intelligent disobedience”. They will choose an alternative safer route and guide their partner. Guide dogs stop without command prior to ascending or descending steps.

Deciding to live with a guide dog, entails many components to be taken into consideration. One of them is finding the right partner to support you along the way. In Liberty, we use a range of industry leading training methods to train our dogs and we work focused on the individual needs of our customers.

Being committed to our purpose, we provide our full support to our students before, during, and after the time they spend with us during training. More specifically:

OUT OF ATTICA

If you live out of Attica, you will have the opportunity of a simulation of everyday life with a guide dog at Liberty school facilities while receiving thorough training. Our facilities include our office, our dogs’ house and the apartment that hosts the trainee for the duration of the program.

Once you successfully complete your program at Liberty facilities, a second stage of training is then taking place on-site.

Your Liberty instructor is visiting you at your residence and follows up daily on your real-life progress, making sure that you and your dog are practicing your new habits and helping you improve and adjust where needed, monitoring your daily routine. This on-site training lasts for approximately a week and all expenses for the instructor (accommodation, transportation, meal supplements) and the training are fully covered by Liberty.

FOR ATTICA RESIDENTS

If you are an Attica resident, the training takes place at your home during the whole training, while your instructor is closely monitoring your progress periodically.
The duration of our training ranges from 30 to 45 days long, to ensure you build and retain your new habits practicing daily with consistency and empowerment, with your instructor’s supervision and support.

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All services are provided at no cost to you — this includes your guide dog, your training program, accommodation facilities during training (if you live out of Attica), daily training at your home for Attica residents, all the equipment that you need when finishing training and more.
We provide highly customized training tailored to your needs to develop an excellent connection between you and the dog.

Liberty provides full support to its alumni. You will become part of our alumni association and receive the following benefits: periodic visits and consulting from your instructor, dedicated support when you need it, financial assistance for veterinary care (if you are facing challenges to make it on your own), all the necessary equipment for the dog when you finish training: crate, bed, toys, harness, white cane, vest etc. and when the time comes for your guide to retire, we can discuss the potential for a successor dog.

Before deciding to apply for a guide dog and have a detailed personal interview with our Liberty team, it is important to evaluate your own interest and readiness. The criteria mentioned in the Self-Assessment form below provide a framework to help you understand if you are ready to apply.