Aiding Brazil’s Guide Dog School

By Rachelle Kniffen

Published in: Update - Issue 3 - 2014 »   
A client stands with his black lab Leader Dog in harness near a curb, while his instructor stands in front of him and gestures with his right hand

George Harrison is an apprentice GDMI from Brazil.
Here he shows Client Clovis Pereira how to work
with Leader Dog Terry at a down curb.

For the past 15 years, Leader Dog has provided IRIS Guide Dogs (Institute of Responsibility and Social Inclusion) in Brazil with four spaces for Brazilians to attend our Guide Dog Training each year. We train the dogs, then the clients and a guide dog mobility instructor (GDMI) from Brazil come to Michigan for training.

Recently, IRIS realized the need to grow but did not have a way to train apprentice GDMIs. That’s where Leader Dog stepped in. We are in discussions with Brazil to send one apprentice per year to live and learn at LDB for five months. At the same time, we are helping IRIS to develop their own apprentice program.

This is not the first time Leader Dog has helped a guide dog organization in another country. We have an ongoing relationship with ONCE, the guide dog organization in Spain; we also helped the Taiwan Guide Dog Association with dogs and apprentice training when they were first starting out.