by Toni and Ed Eames
From the Editor: Toni and Ed are well-known to members of the National Federation of the Blind for their significant activism on behalf of the rights of guide dog users. Ed died in 2009, and Toni continues her strong activism on behalf of guide dog users everywhere. Recently she sent us a note about the proper term for referring to the wonderful dogs that help us move freely in the world. As a former guide dog user myself, I have generously contributed to the problem that Toni addresses, but from now on I will be on the straight and narrow. Here is the article she sends from her and Ed:
When The Seeing Eye was founded in 1929, trained dogs partnered with blind people were referred to as guide dogs. Ten years later, when Leader Dogs for the Blind was founded, guide dog was still used as the generic term. When in 1942 Guide Dogs for the Blind was established, Leader and Seeing Eye were concerned the generic term guide dog would be mistakenly associated with this California-based school. Thus, the birth of the use of the twisted term dog guide. In the intervening years, eleven more training programs have been established, with six using the term guide dog in their registered titles. Both major consumer groups, Guide Dog Users Incorporated and the National Association of Guide Dog Users, have opted for the use of guide dog. Even so, the term dog guide persists in some segments of the industry.
In interacting with other disabled people, it stands out like a sore thumb to hear about hearing dogs, service dogs, and then dog guides. If we don't put checks on this archaic usage, we could end up with the following:
Once upon a time, a small dog lap came to live with the family Brown. The Browns could not decide if he should be a dog house or a dog yard. While mom and dad went to their office law and sister and brother were at care child, the puppy entertained himself by chewing on the leg chair and shoes leather. An even greater violation of etiquette dog was his chasing the cat Siamese and getting into the litter kitty.
After many transgressions canine, mom and dad came home one day and threatened to convert their mischievous dog lap from a dog house to a dog yard unless he mended his ways.
One day a neighbor visited the Browns with her Retriever Labrador dog guide. This coach canine became the puppy's mentor. Following the advice of this mannered-well dog guide, the small dog lap lived happily after ever as a dog house.