Guide dog users are blind and visually impaired persons highly qualified to move independently with the help of a guide dog. One of the basic requirements for free movement with a guide dog is the knowledge of orientation and mobility or usage of the white cane.
The person applying for the assignment of a guide dog must be of full age.
Interested blind person completes the Application Form for training of blind person with a guide dog. After receiving the form, guide dog instructor conducts the interview with the blind person in order to gain better insight into their life habits and needs and to assess the capabilities and possibilities of a blind person’s mobility.
The blind person is registered on the waiting list. Waiting for a guide dog takes an average of few months, depending on the needs of the blind person and characteristics of a group of dogs who are currently ending their training. A blind person and a guide dog must be compatible in as many characteristics as possible (temperament, movement speed, height, weight ...).
Training of a blind person with a guide dog takes 4-6 weeks.
Upon completion of the training, the expert committee assesses the competence of the team - working unit for independent movement. After which a blind person is assigned a Working card - proving the status of the guide dog user with rights defined by the Law about the free movement of a visually impaired person with guide dog (Official Gazette 131/98).
So far, in Croatia, 89 guide dogs were trained and assigned, and 59 blind persons are working actively with their guide dogs. The remaining number of guide dogs is retired due to the end of their working life. By the end of their working period (approx. 7-8 years), guide dog goes into retirement. Based on the assessment of the health and physical condition of the dog, the decision to retire is made jointly by the professional team and user.
Retired guide dogs can stay with the members of the guide dog user’s family or they are fostered in homes of families that satisfy all conditions for their retirement.