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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Companion or Guide Dogs for Nystagmus?

Hello folks, A first time poster here. So hello...

My name is Rich, I have Congenital Nystagmus with corrected vison with glasses of 20/200 (uncorrected at 20/400)... I'm 28 years old.

After having many conversations with a young friend of mine who has Cerebral Palsy, and talking to his family, the conversation turns to the young boy saying “Sensei, you should apply for a service dog...” (I am a judo instructor)

You see, I’ve never given much thought to the idea, and no one has ever suggested it. But after seeing the most wonderful things this dog (his name is Ilia) had done for my friend and his family, the dog has truly changed this boy’s life.

What say you? Do people with Nystagmus get service dogs? I don’t at this time use a cane to get around, but I must say I am TERRIFIED of traveling alone. Crossing streets is not really fun. I am considering getting an Identification Carne.

Though I had O&M training in school, because of overprotective parents and grandparents it never progressed very far. Now I feel alone and helpless. As the same parents who told me as a child they would always be there to take me the places I needed to go, is not reality.

I am looking into adult O&M training at this time. But my main question is about service dogs.


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Re:Companion or Guide Dogs for Nystagmus?

I'm a mother of a nine year old blind boy. I couldn't help to see that you said you are a judo instructor. We live in Miami, Fl and my son is interested in learning some sport. Is my son a candidate? Would you happen to know of any training camps for the blind?

Re:Companion or Guide Dogs for Nystagmus?

You really should go through O&M training and learn to use a white cane. It will be very good to help you gain confidence in crossing streets and navigating through places, as well as a prerequisite to getting a guide dog. In fact most guide dog schools I have read about, prefer for people to have already gone through O&M training prior to guide dog training. Usually the training course for learning how to work with a guide dog is about 26 days long. If you get talking books from NLS there is a really good book about guide dog schools and FAQs about guide dogs in general, by Ed and Toni Eames called A Guide To Guide Dog Schools -Second Edition.
There is a misconception that people have to be 100% blind to be eligible for a guide dog but that is not true. I have a condition called Hypoplasia along with Nystagmus in my right eye and I am currently applying for a guide dog of my own. Hope this helps and good luck!

Re:Companion or Guide Dogs for Nystagmus?

I don't think there are any downfalls to having a dog no matter what. Unless you are irresponsible or neglectful or just too busy for them. The benefit of a guide dog (rather than just a companion dog) is that they can go anywhere with you. A guide dog would offer companionship and perhaps allow you to relax a bit when it comes to street crossing. I'm not visually impaired, nor do I have a guide dog, but I have been a dog trainer and have fostered dogs. I am currently working to get my dog Gus certified for pet therapy. Dogs are smart creatures and I would definitely check into guide dogs if I were you. Not to mention, dogs are also a great way to meet new people!

Re:Companion or Guide Dogs for Nystagmus?

I suggest you contact them for suggestions and/or contact the organizations that help find guide dogs directly.

AFB Information Center
Tel: (800) AFB-LINE (800-232-5463)

AFB Headquarters
Tel: (212) 502-7600
Fax: (212) 502-7777
11 Penn Plaza, Suite 300
New York, NY 10001

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