We provide "Hometown Training" with guide dogs to people in the Eastern U.S. who are blind to benefit from the assistance of a guide dog.
Freedom Guide Dogs for the Blind
Freedom provides guide dogs for blind and visually impaired people through Hometown Training at no cost to them. Eric and Sharon Loori, who founded Freedom Guide Dogs in 1992, have been training guide dogs since 1977. We breed and train guide dogs at our facility in upstate New York. A certified instructor trains each blind person at home, in the community where they live. We are only the second guide dog program in The United States to exclusively offer this caring program of 'Hometown Training'. We provide at-home training to blind and visually impaired people throughout the Eastern US. We seek to serve all, without regard of race, religion, ethnic background or national origin. We breed our guide dogs. After the puppies are 8 weeks old, they are placed in 'foster home' for a year. Our volunteer Puppy Raisers provide love, discipline and training in good behavior and social manners. The young dogs are then returned to our facility for a focused, 5 month, training program. They are trained to walk in a straight line, stop at curbs and follow commands. They must become familiar with obstacles such as cars, buses, pedestrian traffic, escalators at the mall, automatic entry doors, driveways and shopping carts. Each blind applicant is visited and interviewed to determine if a guide dog is right for them. A dog of appropriate temperament is selected and brought to their home. The blind person is trained in the comfort and security of their home community. During the two-week period of instruction, the blind person learns to work with their guide dog on the familiar streets they travel day by day. Once mastered, the learned skills are easily transferred to a wider community. After the blind person is trained, their progress is carefully monitored. We oversee each client for the working life of their guide dog, about 8-10 years. Our goal for each of our clients is to help them function independently in their home, at work and in their community. Our at-home service is caring and effective. It is suited to the young mother, caring for her children, who cannot leave home for training or the work dependent adult, who cannot leave for training. Older adults find our at-home training reassuring, enabling them to remain active in their communities. Our at-home training has proven to be especially suited to blind people with multiple handicaps. Many of these blind people might not otherwise have the opportunity of enjoying the mobility and independence a guide dog affords.