In New Jersey, where the first Seeing Eye Dog School was founded, today is Seeing Eye Dog Day, a day to recognize and commemorate the contribution the Seeing Eye Dog program has made to giving "eyes" to the visually disabled.
According to a New Jersey state joint resolution, seeing eye dogs help blind persons achieve greater independence, dignity and self-confidence. These special animals are known for their intelligence, loyalty and gentle temperament.
The Seeing Eye, North America's pioneer guide dog school, was founded in 1929 by Dorothy Harrison Eustis; and it has matched over 11,000 specially bred and trained guide dogs with nearly 6,000 blind men and women in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada.
The Seeing Eye moved to the Morristown area of New Jersey in 1931 and to its present Washington Valley campus in 1965.
For those reasons, Seeing Eye Dog Day has been aside to recognize the contributions of seeing eye dogs, the Seeing Eye organization and the other organizations which help blind persons.
What we can do, of course, is recognize the rights of the visually impaired and the dogs who guide them. By law, guide dogs must be allowed into public facilities just as much as would any person guiding a visually disabled person.
Anyone who would dream of objecting to having a guide dog in a public facility should take pause and ask if a guide dog would make more or less noise than an infant or child.
Guide dogs are trained to be as well behaved and inconspicuous as possible, and often they are the only way the visually disabled can access public facilties.
For that reason, not only Seeing Eye Dog Day, but every day, we should remind ourselves the key role these intelligent animals play in giving the visually impaired independence.