While living in Switzerland, an American dog trainer, Dorothy Harrison Eustis, was experimenting with the inclination and ability of German Shepherds to be used as working dogs. Eventually, she visited a school that was training German Shepherds to lead blinded World War I veterans.
Fascinated by what she had seen, she wrote an article entitled, "The Seeing Eye", about the school, which appeared in the November 5 1927 edition of The Saturday Evening Post. Shortly thereafter she was contacted by a blind Tennessean man, Morris Frank, who enlisted her to train a dog for his use.
This effort eventually evolved into the Seeing Eye organization in Switzerland and America. Another internationally-recognized breeder of dogs, Geraldine R. Dodge, also was one of the founders of the Seeing Eye Foundation in Morristown, which established this first guide dog school that opened in the United States in 1929.
Most Seeing Eye dogs come from a breeding center located in nearby Chester, New Jersey. Primarily, they are German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, or Golden Retrievers. Some dogs are donated to the organization. Occasionally, The Seeing Eye also will train Labrador-Golden Retriever crosses, Boxers, or other breeds and mixes.
Formal training at the Seeing Eye campus lasts four months. This is where the dogs learn advanced obedience and skills such as pulling in harness, stopping at curbs, and "intelligent disobedience" to keep themselves and their handler safe from danger. After completing this training, the dogs spend up to a month training with their future human partners, before they are formally released. Most of the training with the future owner takes place in the community.