It’s hard to find anything more heartwarming than a group of guide dogs in training. Especially when Alaska Airlines and Guide Dogs for the Blind have partnered to make the process easier for these special pooches, ensuring their success flying the friendly skies with their blind or visually impaired persons.
I had the honor of witnessing one of these sessions last October at Alaska Airlines’ Flight Training Center in Seatac, Wash. The unique training event was created by Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) and Alaska Airlines and centers on preparing guide dogs for plane travel with passengers who are blind or have low vision. The airline hosted the group of adorable guide dogs and puppies at their training center, giving them the chance to learn how to navigate an actual airplane. The event was a success, with guide dogs and puppies being able to step onto an Alaska Airlines jet and even experience a raft if ever the need to evacuate the plane.
“We absolutely love our partnership with Guide Dogs for the Blind. Through our various partnerships with GDB, Alaska Airlines has improved our training and guest services, for all of our customers, including guests with disabilities. We’re very proud to help with GDB’s mission,” says Shirley Purkey, Alaska Airlines flight attendant and disability advocate.
Guide Dogs for the Blind is an industry-leading nonprofit guide dog school serving the visually impaired with campus locations in San Rafael, Calif. and Boring, Ore. With exceptional client services and a robust and passionate community of instructors, puppy raisers, donors, and volunteers, GDB prepares highly qualified guide dogs to serve and empower individuals who are blind or have low vision. All of GDB’s services are provided free of charge, as the organization receives no government funding.
GDB’s extensive training program involves training guide dogs to navigate all aspects of travel from planes to buses. Travel can be a daunting task for blind and visually impaired travelers, with guide dogs being a helpful guide for clients. This activation is part of the robust training that GDB and its volunteers provide to help prepare these special dogs to be able to support their blind or visually impaired handlers travel safely and independently, and to behave appropriately in challenging environments.
Interested in learning more or supporting Guide Dogs for the Blind? Tune in for the nonprofit’s Virtual Holiday Celebration on Sunday, December 6 featuring inspiring stories, lots of puppies, and opportunities to fund GDB’s mission all from the comfort of your own home. More information on GDB including details on volunteer options can also be found on its website at guidedogs.com.
about the author
Brandie Ahlgren is founder and editor of CityDog Magazine. She, and her team of dog-loving editors, dig up the best places for you to sit, stay and play with your four-legged friends. Brandie, 12-year-old boxer Thya and Mexican foster failure Pancho, reside in West Seattle and can often be found hanging out at Westcrest Dog Park.