Boring, OR. Families with blind or visually impaired children came out to the Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) Campus to learn about the K9 Buddy program on April 27th. At an afternoon picnic, Kids like Charlie and his parents learned about the program, and were able to interact with GDB employees and families that have a K9 Buddy dog to see if the program is a fit for them.

Owen and Theodore

Jazzy and Henrietta

The K9 Buddy program matches carefully selected dogs with youth in Washington, Oregon, and California who are blind or have low vision, but are not yet ready to care for a guide dog. These “K9 Buddies” offer comfort and companionship while teaching the child responsibility, and give the child an opportunity to begin exploring the guide dog lifestyle at a young age.

Four current K9 Buddy child and dog pairs were in attendance, along with their families. Chris Benninger, President and CEO of Guide Dogs for the Blind, also flew up from the organization’s campus in San Rafael, California to attend the picnic. Other GDB instructors and employees, as well as several working guide dogs and guide dogs in training, also made appearances. After an educational session about the K9 Buddy program, lunch was served. The families attending then had time to socialize, make crafts, and say hi to the dogs.

Here’s a video about the program:

From Guide Dogs for the Blind:

Since 1942, Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) has been creating partnerships between people, dogs, and communities. With exceptional client services and a robust network of instructors, puppy raisers, donors, and volunteers, we prepare highly qualified guide dogs to serve and empower individuals who are blind or have low vision from throughout the United States and Canada.

All of the services for our clients are provided free of charge, including personalized training and extensive post-graduation support, plus financial assistance for veterinary care, if needed. Our work is made possible by the generous support of our donors and volunteers; we receive no government funding.

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.