National Guide Dog Month is a celebration of the work of guide dogs in the United States as a way to raise awareness, appreciation and support for guide dog schools across the United States. It was established in 2008, as a fundraising drive to benefit non-profit guide dog organizations accredited by the International Guide Dog Federation). It is observed during the month of September. As i write this is i said why not celebrate India’s guide dog – “Magic”.
Magic The Pup
Sanam Karunakar had met with an accident a couple of years ago which left her wheel chair bound. A local news paper did a story on Sanam which grabbed the attention of a family with Labrador pup that they wanted her to adopt so he could be her guide dog. Sanam decided to call him Magic.
Guide Dog Training
Magic was all but 5 months old when he entered Sanam’s life in the year 2003. Sanam then did a training and behavior course conducted by India’s first Canine Behaviorist Shirin Merchant [Canines Can Care]. It took Sanam 6 months to fully train Magic to be a guide dog .
Magic was trained for a variety of commands. Some of which are:
- Picking up dropped objects.
- Opening and closing doors.
- Getting help in case of an emergency by barking for help(speak on command)
- Carrying items from one person to the other.
- Switching on and off light switches
Magic & Sanam’s Lifetime Together.
Sanam says Magic was always a quick learner and of great comfort to her during difficult times. Their bond was special for it had reached a point in time where Magic would do things for Sanam without a command being given.
Sanam recollects one such incident where she dropped a pillow in the middle of the night and magic instantly retrieved it for her without a command being given.
Guide dogs are always on duty 24/7 always alert and eager to help. They have eyes only for whom they serve. I met Magic once at a pet shop he was there with Sanam i asked her permission before i could approach him. When she consented i got a quick Hi from him and he was back by her side ready to help her if need be.
Magic retired from being a guide dog when he was 12 years old but continued to live with Sanam and be her best buddy until the end. Magic lived a full life and passed away at the age of 13.
This post is an ode to all those guide dogs, their trainers and handlers!!