Leader Dogs for the Blind is known as an organization that happily provides free guide dogs to blind and visually impaired individuals. The organization ensures that individuals get back their independence.
One of the charity's newest initiatives is its executive training program. It resulted from the organization's observation of its clients in leadership positions and their achievements. These clients report applying the lessons they've learned from their guide dogs to every part of their life, including their careers and marriages. That is why Leader Dogs for the Blind understood that other individuals could also benefit from these insights.
According to Dave Bann, the corporate engagement manager for the program, it took a year to create and finalize the program. After then, it became necessary to select canines who qualify as “instructors.”
Approximately 400 Labrador, golden retriever, German Shepherd, and Lab-golden puppies are trained annually by Leader Dogs. However, only around half of the puppies ultimately pass their examinations and become guide dogs.
Those who do not fit the criteria are referred to as canines that have changed careers. Some of them find employment in a different industry, while others are adopted.
Coco, Bann's two-year-old Labrador, is one of these dogs, and she is now a Leader Dogs ambassador. In addition to promoting the charity, Coco must also participate in the executive training program.
The training comprises of multiple sessions, including blindfolded dog walking, walking with a white cane, and team building. In blindfold walking, people cover their eyes, direct the dog in the desired direction, and then relinquish control.
Ginger Auten, a volunteer from Mitsubishi Motors, describes how strolling while wearing a blindfold enabled her to find something significant. Leaders must be in command, but they must also be willing to trust the judgment of their subordinates.
Another attendee, Phil Bertolini, echoes a similar sentiment. He adds that giving up control was initially frightening. Eventually, Bertolini learned that putting the dog on a short leash negates its potential to assist.
White-cane walking, therefore, reveals to the participants the drawbacks of shouldering all the burden rather than relying on their team to do their portion. As the activity demonstrates, they can still navigate with their cane, but they cannot see very well.
The cost of instruction might range between $300 and $400 per person, however, former trainees affirm that the investment was well worth it. It enables them to become more effective leaders, which increases staff retention.
Source: Leader Dogs for the Blind