At GDB, we believe that a dog can make a remarkable difference in any child's life by fostering a sense of caring, companionship, and a sense of responsibility through the human/animal bond. Our K9 Buddy Program matches specially selected dogs to become wonderful pets and buddies to children and young adults who are blind or visually impaired and their families. A dog can contribute to heightening of sensory development, motivating a child to learn and enhancing self esteem. The K9 Buddy program connects the child/family with our community of puppy raisers and other supporters, including agencies and organizations for the blind. K9 Buddies are offered free-of-charge.
- K9 Buddies are only placed in the Western states in areas where GDB has puppies being raised and the staff to support these programs. You must reside in one of the following states to be eligible to apply for a K9 Buddy: AZ, CA, CO, ID, NV, OR, UT, WA, or TX.
- K9 Buddy dogs are not qualified to work as mobility assistance dogs; K9 Buddies are not trained to perform a service and are not considered service dogs as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Therefore, children who have K9 Buddies and their buddy dogs are not granted access to public places (restaurants, shopping malls, grocery stores, hotels, public transportation, etc.) with their dogs under the ADA. K9 Buddies are considered pets.
- GDB's veterinary assistance and counseling services are provided only to active guide dog teams. Families receiving K9 Buddies are required to provide the necessary care and supplies to maintain the dog's health.
A good candidate for a K9 Buddy would be a child at least five years or older who has a personal interest in having a K9 Buddy and is prepared to actively participate in the dog’s well-being to their best ability. The child should exhibit the emotional stability and maturity needed to care for the dog (feeding, grooming, exercising) and will treat the dog humanely.
K9 Buddy applicants will be interviewed in their home to evaluate the environment as well as to determine the particular traits the family is looking for in a dog so an appropriate match can be made. After matching the family with a dog, the family will receive training and guidance from a GDB staff member to ensure the success of the placement.