The loyal pups of The Seeing Eye Dog, Inc. are more than just man’s best friend. For visually impaired individuals like Ginger Kutsch, they’re hard-working heroes that help restore their freedom and autonomy with every careful step.
Kutsch, a graduate of the Morristown, N.J.-based organization and a longtime volunteer there, was not born blind. She lost her vision later in life. “I lost more than just my eyesight,” she tells Free Enterprise. “I lost my confidence, I lost my independence, and I was afraid to go outside of the home to do anything.”
But everything changed when she teamed up with her first Seeing Eye dog. Her world opened up, and it got bigger and better. “The love, the joy, the laughter, and the incredible freedom my dog brought me was nothing short of a miracle,” she says.
Today, a watchful, yet gentle-eyed black lab named Willa serves as Kutsch’s right-hand dog, dutifully guiding her wherever she ventures out and about—from the grocery store to the bank and beyond, even when she leads large group tours of The Seeing Eye’s historical training grounds.
The Seeing Eye has trained dogs to aid the blind and vision-impaired for nearly 88 years. The organization traces its roots back to World War II, when service dogs were first enlisted to assist wounded veterans returning home from the battlefield.
Every year, dozens of specially bred dogs at the award-winning school undergo rigorous training to teach them how to navigate a range of daily obstacles: everything from crowded trains to traffic stops and beyond.
“Day by day, the bond between human and canine grows, the love strengthens and the trust blossoms,” says Kutsch. “The end result is an extraordinary partnership like no other, and it’s built out of the love, compassion, and generosity of the many people who make up our amazing Seeing Eye family.”
Watch the video above to learn more about Kutsch and her trusty pup, and about the amazing team and trainers behind the scenes at The Seeing Eye Dog, Inc.