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Guide Dogs of Texas was incorporated on Feb. 14, 1989 in San Antonio, Texas and received non-profit [(501(c)(3)] status in June 1989. The first two years of operation were devoted to creating working relationships with local blind service organizations and developing the Puppy Walker Program (raising puppies from 8 weeks to 14 months of age).
The second phase consisted of raising funds to hire a professional guide dog mobility instructor (GDMI). Until an instructor was hired, dogs graduating from our Puppy Walker Program were donated to Guide Dogs of America in California. In 1997 the first GDMI was hired and a formal guide dog training program was initiated. The first guide dog, “Harley,” was placed in November 1998 in the Houston area.
We collaborate with British Columbia Guide Dog Services in Vancouver, which supplies some of our puppies, as well as with Guiding Eyes for the Blind in Smithtown, N.Y. In 2005, Guide Dogs of Texas was accredited as a full member of the International Guide Dog Federation (IGDF).
Guide Dogs of Texas opened its residential training center in January 2006. With six state-of-the-art kennels, we can house up to 18 dogs, and with the residential training facility, we can train up to four clients on site at any one time.
In October 2010, Guide Dogs of Texas reached a major milestone when “Poppy” delivered a litter of eight puppies as part of the organizations’ in-house breeding program, which continues today.