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A Short History of Service Dogs in USA and Canada - Brigadoon Service Dogs News (2015)

  • 16th century onward: Guide dogs are mentioned in different texts.

  • World War I (1914-18): Dr. Gerhard Stalling begins to train dogs for German veterans blinded during the war after watching his own dog, a German Shepherd, assisted a blind man he had left alone for a minute. In 1916, the first guide dog is matched. In the next 3 years, hundreds more would be given to veterans.

  • 1923-1929: Official guide dog schools in Germany form. Dorothy Eustis, a German Shepherd breeder in Switzerland, visits a guide dog school in Germany. Impressed, she publishes an article on her visit in The Saturday Evening Post. Morris Frank writes to Dorothy asking if she would be able to train a guide dog for him. Morris receives a guide dog, Buddy. Morris travels back to America and creates The Seeing Eye. Guide dogs begin to be realized internationally.

  • 1974: Dr. Bonnie Bergin realizes the potential for dogs to assist with other disabilities when she sees a donkey helping a person with paralysis whilst visiting Turkey.

  • 1980-90: The Blind Person’s Act in Canada first recognizes the rights of guide dogs in 1980. Assistance Dogs International begins in North America with the Hearing Dog Symposium in 1985. The Americans with Disabilities Act institutes service dog laws in 1990. Provinces in Canada work to change laws to encompass more than just guide dogs in 1990.

  • 1995: Assistance Dogs International finalizes the public access test.

  • 2000: The Coalition of Assistance Dogs Organizations forms.

  • 2001-2003: Canada and America hold conferences to update their service dog laws. The ADA redefines service animals, and provincial service dog acts in Canada begin to be revised.

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