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  • Chris McMillan

Pursuit of a welcoming society for guide dogs


29th April 2021

Pursuit of a welcoming society for guide dogs

The four-and-a-half-year-old guide dog named Heimengmeng is more than just assistance for Chen Yan — it is her companion, family and beyond.

"My job requires me to travel frequently. Simply relying on a cane and no guide dog would bring me a lot of unknown dangers," said Chen, a visually impaired piano tuner, adding that the devoted black labrador knows its tasks well and resolutely fulfills them.

Chen is well regarded for her skills. She goes door to door tuning piano for customers. With the help of her guide dog, she has been to almost every corner of Beijing and even served people in other cities.

Like police dogs and search and rescue dogs, guide dogs also have to go through strict screening and training.

According to China's national standards for guide dogs issued in 2018, a candidate dog should have a complete pedigree and a clear origin of three generations with no records of aggression, or genetic defects.

Their entire life traverses through four stages — fostering, training, service and retirement. The service period is between 6 and 10 years.

Teng Weimin, former vice chairman of China Association of the Blind, said that there are 17 million blind people in China. Besides children and the elderly, there are about 9 million blind people in employment.

According to international standards based on the above figures, China currently has a requirement of 500 guide dogs, but only about 200 are there in the country as the concept of a guide dog is fairly new, Teng said.

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